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Water

The small prototype device created by researchers at EPFL

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

A newly-developed polymer might find use in the clean-up of oil spills  (Photo: Shuttersto...

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

Drought bites deeply – this year's corn crop in Missouri Valley, Iowa (Photo: USDA and Dav...

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

The final concept art for Washit - a combined shower and washing machine - shows both dome...

Water is a precious resource and in places like Australia and the U.K., the onset of summer coincides with restrictions on water use – hosepipes for watering gardens are banned, and showers are recommended over baths. But even taking a shower uses a fair amount of water, which all ends up down the drain. The same goes for doing laundry. If only there was a way to combine the two into one unified unit. There is, or at least there could be in the future. Four university students in Turkey have collectively designed Washit, a concept shower and washing machine combo that's capable of cleaning you and your clothes simultaneously.  Read More

Violent bubbling in boiling water may just be a thing of the past (Image: Northwestern Uni...

You know that thing that water does when it boils? The thing with the bubbles? Turns out, it doesn't really need to do that at all, with scientists finding a way to make boiling water a completely bubble-free zone. Researchers from Northwestern University, King Abdullah University of Science and Technology in Saudi Arabia and Melbourne University in Australia teamed up to prevent water from bubbling when it boils by using tiny spheres coated with a hydrophobic material.  Read More

The Eliodomestico costs US$50 to build (Image: Gabriele Diamanti)

Sometimes the simplest ideas are the best. Concerned about the lack of fresh water in the developing world, designer Gabriele Diamanti wanted a solution to desalinate water that was available to households rather than relying on giant centralized plants. He also wanted it to be something inexpensive that could be made by local craftsman. The result is a ceramic solar still called the Eliodomestico that operates like an “upside-down coffee percolator”.  Read More

The individual components of Aqua Zinger laid out, including the berry and herb ingredient...

We're constantly told to drink more liquids, with water especially recommended for re-hydrating thanks to its lack of any additives or diuretic qualities. But pure water, even the best mineral water money can buy, can be boring to drink all the time. Beverage manufacturers are aware of this with "flavored water" appearing on the shelves next to the regular stuff in recent times. The Aqua Zinger water bottle however, takes a DIY approach to spicing up your liquid intake by means of an attachable food blender.  Read More

Northwest Hydraulic Consultants principal Darren Shepherd, using a tiny kayak to assess th...

When an architect is designing a building, they build a scale model to check how their design will work as an actual physical structure. What happens, however, when engineers are designing things that will have to be compatible with the currents in rivers ... things like dams, bridges, or pump stations? Well, that’s where water resources engineering firms like Northwest Hydraulic Consultants (NHC) come into the picture. Their work often includes building exact miniature recreations of waterways, complete with flowing water. We recently caught up with NHC principal Darren Shepherd, who guided us through the production process of one of his more exciting models – a one-twelfth scale Norwegian whitewater kayaking park.  Read More

The dispersants used to control the Deep Horizon oil spill were criticized for their toxic...

Some people believe that there’s no problem that peanut butter, chocolate and whipped cream can’t solve. These people could be onto something with news that a team of researchers has developed a new, safer oil dispersant that uses edible ingredients found in the aforementioned trio of treats. The new dispersant could save the lives of thousands of birds and animals caught in environmental catastrophes.  Read More

TOHL tests its pipeline-laying technique

A new startup named TOHL, comprised of a handful young Georgia Tech graduates, has set up shop in Chile in an effort to "change the way people think about pipelines." Using little more than a helicopter and a coil of flexible high-density polyethylene (HDPE) pipe, TOHL laid a kilometer (0.6 miles) of water pipeline by helicopter in a "record-setting" nine minutes, despite windy conditions and mountainous terrain. TOHL claims this is "the first ever completely aerial installation of a pipeline." Now company President Benjamin Cohen is taking to Kickstarter to ask for US$30,000 to build the company's first "full-scale" installation.  Read More

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