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Silver is known for its antibacterial qualities, and has thus found its way into water filters created at institutions such as Stanford and McGill universities. Given that these filters are often used in developing nations, however, it would be nice if they could also contribute to the local economy – instead of being just one more thing that’s brought in from outside. Well, that’s just the idea behind the University of Virginia’s PureMadi filters and MadiDrops. Read More

Refrigerators have gotten some handy upgrades in recent years, with everything from Wi-Fi enabled touchscreens to blast chillers for quickly cooling a beer. Now, Samsung has partnered with SodaStream to introduce the RF31FMESBSR Four-Door Refrigerator, which comes with a built-in sparkling water dispenser for making homemade soda. Read More

In arid places where fog occurs overnight, some people utilize so-called “fog harvesters” to acquire fresh water. These are typically pieces of netting that collect fog droplets, which then roll down into a container below. Various researchers have tried to increase the efficiency of these harvesters, such as by making them from a combination of hydrophilic (water-absorbing) and hydrophobic (water-repelling) materials. Now, a team of scientists have done something a little different – they’ve created a cotton-based fog-harvesting material that switches between being entirely hydrophilic and entirely hydrophobic. Read More
Removing radioactive material from contaminated water, such as that in Japan’s Fukushima nuclear power plants, could be getting a little easier. Scientists from Houston’s Rice University and Lomonosov Moscow State University have discovered that when flakes of graphene oxide are added to such water, it causes the radionuclides to condense into clumps. Those clumps can then be separated and disposed of. Read More
A streetscape that includes natural landscaping, bicycle lanes, wind powered lighting, storm water diversion for irrigation, drought-resistant native plants and innovative “smog-eating” concrete has earned Cermak road in Chicago the title of “greenest Street in America” according to the Chicago Department of Transport (CDOT). Opened in October 2012, the first phase two mile stretch is part of the Blue Island/Cermak Sustainable Streetscape project which was introduced in 2009 with the aim of reducing overall energy usage by 42 percent. Read More

For most of us, chances are that we will never be in a car that plunges into the water. However, if you consider yourself “at risk” for that sort of eventuality – say, if you’re a rally driver or Jason Bourne – you might be interested in the Escape Belt. It automatically releases your seat belt when exposed to water. Read More

The MESSENGER spacecraft has made a compelling case for the presence of water in the form of ice on the surface of the Solar System's smallest and innermost planet, Mercury. The case is supported by three independent groups of evidence from different sensors aboard the Mercury orbiter. Read More
As scientists endeavor to increase the efficiency of solar panels, the challenge of storing the resultant energy cheaply and in an environmentally responsible way must also be met. To this end, researchers at Switzerland’s École polytechnique fédérale de Lausann (EPFL) have developed an inexpensive device that transforms light energy into hydrogen, for storage and later use. The new prototype makes use of sunlight, water, and metal oxides, including iron oxide – or rust. Read More

As the Deepwater Horizon disaster showed us, we need to develop better ways of cleaning up oil spills. While many ideas have been put forth, scientists from Pennsylvania State University have come up with something that particularly shows promise – a polymer that soaks up 40 times its weight in oil. Read More

Recently, drought seems to be a fact of life. As the lead photograph poignantly illustrates, most of the U.S. has been struggling with serious levels of drought for the past several years. Worldwide, drought affected areas include Europe, India and Pakistan, Russia, much of Africa, South America – the list goes on. But when the rains start again, everyone expresses great relief, not realizing that long-term depletion of groundwater reserves is part of the price for surviving drought. It was with this in mind that GRACE (Gravity Recovery and Climate Experiment), a joint U.S. and German space project, was designed a decade ago. Read More