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Wastewater

Algae may indeed be a potential source of biofuel, but it can also find use in things like nutritional supplements and cosmetics. When it's grown commercially, its growth is usually aided with chemical fertilizers. The cost of those chemicals cuts into the profits, however, plus the fertilizers are also needed for more traditional crops. That's why scientists from Houston's Rice University are looking into growing algae in municipal wastewater – the water would already contain its own free fertilizer, plus the algae would help clean it up. Read More
Mining operations tend not be very good for the environment, nor does the disposal of treated solid waste that still contains potentially-toxic metals. Now, however, scientists are looking into taking that waste and harvesting its trace amounts of metals such as gold, silver and platinum. Doing so could ultimately reduce the need for mining and decrease the amount of metals entering the environment, while also turning sewage into a source of revenue. Read More
A treatment process developed by engineers at the University of Colorado Boulder promises a simpler and more economical way to clean up the wastewater produced by oil and gas operations that is heavily salinated and full of organic contaminants. The technique, which involves the use of a microbe-powered battery, also produces rather than consumes energy. Read More
Drinking recycled urine may be the stuff of Dune novels, and a drastic response to California’s ongoing drought. But officials in Santa Clara County in the heart of Silicon Valley are hoping its new high-tech purification plant will help residents get past the ick factor and eventually allow treated wastewater to flow through their faucets in a "toilet to tap" scenario. Opened in July, the $72 million Silicon Valley Advanced Water Purification Center is the most advanced such plant in the US, and uses a multi-step system of microfiltration, reverse osmosis and ultraviolet rays to produce water of higher quality than typical drinking water. Read More
A new study conducted at MIT has examined the potential of pressure-retarded osmosis (PRO), a technique that generates electricity from the difference in salinity between two pools of water separated by a membrane. According to the researchers, tweaking the size of the membrane could help generate electricity much more cheaply than ever before. Read More
Using wastewater to clean itself is the premise of new Australian technology that relies on the formation of compounds called hydrotalicites, and which results in less sludge than traditional water treatment with lime. In one test in Australia, the equivalent of 20 Olympic-sized swimming pools of wastewater were treated, with final sludge reductions of up to 90 percent. Read More
With dwindling non-renewable fuel sources creating an enormous energy challenge, the search is on to develop sustainable, renewable types of energy such as solar, wind and biofuel. One of the recent developments in this field comes from New York's Clarkson University, where new findings suggest that small organisms found in wastewater treatment lagoons could be used as biofuel feedstock. Read More

Like most other fabrics, silk is colored with dye. Unfortunately, the dyeing process results in wastewater laden with toxins. Now, however, scientists from the National Chemical Laboratory in India are developing an alternative. They're feeding dye to silkworms, which in turn are producing pre-colored silk fibers. Read More

Rare earth elements are an integral part of many of today's electronic devices, serving as magnets, catalysts and superconductors. Unfortunately, these minerals are also ... well, rare, and thus very pricey. Recently, however, scientists discovered that some of them can be reclaimed from industrial wastewater, instead of being mined from the earth. Read More

While some people may wonder about the possible side-effects of antidepressants on the people who are taking them, here’s another thing to consider ... what happens when the residue from those drugs passes through the user’s urine and into the sewage system? As it turns out, it can enter local waterways and affect the fish. Now, researchers from KTH Royal Institute of Technology in Stockholm have developed technology to keep that from happening. Read More
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