Highlights from the 2014 LA Auto Show

Water

The prototype 'water chip'

Although various alternative technologies are being developed, the large-scale desalination of seawater typically involves forcing it through a membrane that allows the water to pass through, but that traps the salt. These membranes can be costly, they can get fouled, and powerful pumps are required to push the water through. Now, however, scientists from the University of Texas at Austin and Germany’s University of Marburg are taking another approach. They’ve developed a chip that separates salt from water.  Read More

You probably wouldn't need to be told not to swim in this – a particularly scummy cyanobac...

Cyanobacteria, more commonly known as blue-green algae, can potentially be quite nasty. Some types of the bacteria produce toxins, which can poison humans or other animals that ingest water in which they’re present. Now, however, scientists are developing a portable sensor that will instantly alert users to the presence of the microbes in water samples.  Read More

The Kepler spacecraft could still hunt planets using gravity miscrolensing ( Image: NASA)

Last month, NASA declared its Kepler mission to hunt exoplanets at an end when one of the space telescope’s reaction wheels failed. Unable to keep itself pointed in the right direction, it could no longer carry on its hunt for planets beyond the Solar System. That seemed like the end of things, but Keith Horne of the University of St Andrews and Andrew Gould of Ohio State University disagree. They claim that Kepler could still hunt for exoplanets using gravity microlensing to detect how stars with planets distort space.  Read More

The Seal system consists of neckbands worn by swimmers, designed to sound an alarm if anyo...

It can’t be easy, being a lifeguard at a pool full of children. The kids that catch your attention are going to be the ones who are splashing and yelling, whereas the ones that you really need to look for could be silently slipping below the surface, where they won’t be seen or heard. North Carolina-based emergency physician Graham Snyder decided that those potential drowning victims needed more attention drawn to their predicament, so he created the Seal system.  Read More

Water Balance offers a visual reminder to feed your houseplants, by visibly showing how mu...

Most of us, at one time or another, have forgotten to water houseplants or flowers sitting in a vase in our homes. It's very easy to do, particularly if you have a busy lifestyle and one too many chores to do each day. If only housebound flowers and plants had a way of communicating with us their need for a drink ... Now they do, thanks to Water Balance.  Read More

New water-purifying synthetic nanoscavengers can be removed from water magnetically (Photo...

According to a joint World Health Organization/UNICEF report issued this week, an estimated 768 million people relied on unimproved drinking-water sources in 2011, with 185 million of these relying on surface water to meet their daily drinking-water needs. WHO and UNICEF have set a 2030 target for everyone to have access to a safe drinking-water supply and new water-purifying “nanoscavengers” developed by researchers at Stanford University could help achieve this goal.  Read More

The NDūR Survival Straw filters out nasties from dirty water as you drink

Most of us take water for granted. If we want a drink, we turn a tap or twist a cap and there it is. But if you find yourself off the beaten track in triple-digit heat without it, locating some can mean the difference between life and death. Finding a pool of water in the shade of a rock may seem like a godsend, but then the question of waterborne diseases raises its head. That’s where the NDūR Survival Straw comes in.  Read More

The Jerrycan offers 18.5 liters (4.9 gallons) of water-purifying and carrying capacity

The LIFESAVER Jerrycan is a large water purification jug that could be of great use to everyone from campers to inhabitants of remote villages. The Jerrycan incorporates a built-in filtration system which can purify 18.5 liters (4.9 gallons) of water at a time, along with an integrated shower attachment that lets you use the water for cleaning as well as drinking.  Read More

A prototype water heater system that uses cold water to make hot water pictured with Slate...

Apart from heating and cooling the house, water heating is one of the biggest energy drains in the average home. But what if you could literally use cold water to create hot water? That’s just what San Diego inventor Hal Slater claims to have done with the creation of a water heater system that promises to improve water heating efficiency by as much as 50 to 100 percent.  Read More

The University of Engineering and Technology and MAYO-DRAFT FCB have constructed an advert...

The University of Engineering and Technology (UTEC) in Lima, Peru has partnered with advertising agency MAYO-DRAFT FCB to create an advertising billboard that grabs moisture from the desert air and converts it into filtered drinking water.  Read More

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