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Tools for protecting drinking water

We place high demands on the quality of our drinking water. If pathogens or toxic substances found their way into the piping system, many people could become infected or injured very quickly. That’s why this risk must be kept low. To do this, experts have developed technologies for a comprehensive monitoring, early warning and emergency management system.

Tools-water1Drinking water is indispensable for every human being. Public works and water utilities must not only protect the supply system from impurities, but also from possible manipulation. Every day, they collect probes and analyze drinking water quality in a lab, but such analysis takes time. Preventative methods and tools are needed for continuous monitoring in order to identify contaminations quickly and also catch unexpected toxic substances. Even a few drops could have devastating consequences – toxins that make their way into the water supply reach millions of users within hours. Read more

Hamwells e-Shower rains down water and energy savings

In the move toward sustainable homes, the progress of showers has been more of a trickle. Ten minutes in a traditional shower can use up to 100 l (22 gal) of water. The Hamwells e-Shower, however, promises high pressure and volume, while saving up to 90 percent on water and 80 percent on energy.

hamwells-e-shower-1Hamwells was founded only this year, with the aim of building a shower that could make significant savings on water and energy, while still providing the comfort of a traditional shower. The startup says that it found shower heat recovery systems to be inefficient and wasteful of water, low-flow showers to waste water and recycling showers to require expensive maintenance.

In addition to saving water and energy, the firm wanted its shower to be “cool,” easy-to-use, hygienic and self-cleaning. The key to achieving this was creating a design that would reuse water, filtering it as it went. Read more

Solar and wind technology delivers power and clean water to villagers in the West Bank

An Israeli-Palestinian NGO is using solar and wind energy to transform the lives of a marginalized community of Palestinian famers and shepherds.

comet-me-1According to the NGO, Comet-ME, the arid, windswept south Hebron hills region of the West Bank has been home to dozens of small Palestinian family groups and villages for centuries. Located in Area C of the occupied Palestinian territories, all live under the threat of demolitions and forced displacement, with no electricity or water, and no infrastructure allowed.

The communities live in caves and tents and rely on traditional non-mechanised agriculture and herding to produce butter and dairy products for sale and family consumption. Most of the families have either no access to electricity or rely on expensive diesel generators, which they can only run occasionally. Read more

“Water-in-salt” battery bodes well for greener, safer grid storage

Scientists at the University of Maryland and the US Army Research Laboratory have used high concentrations of salt in water to create safe, green batteries that could find use in anything from large-scale grid storage to spaceships and pacemakers.

water-in-salt-battery-3Many of today’s batteries are designed so that, on first charge, their energy-carrying electrolytes will break down near the negative pole and form a so-called “solid-electrolyte interphase” (SEI) layer that is electrically insulating, but still lets ions through.

The SEI allows the battery to operate at higher voltages and self-discharge more slowly. It is so important that commercial lithium-ion batteries include one, even though this means using a flammable electrolyte in a battery that can (in rare cases) quickly overheat. The safer alternative of a water-based electrolyte has been set aside for commercial applications because it was so far believed that no SEI could form in such a medium. Read more

Diminutive Lunar IceCube satellite to scan Moon for water and other resources

Recently, NASA has been looking at CubeSats as a way of carrying out economical deep space missions. One of the first of these may be shoebox-sized satellite called the Lunar IceCube, which is designed to look for water ice and other resources on the Moon. Tentatively aimed to launch on the first Orion mission scheduled to fly by 2018, it is intended to not only uncover materials for future deep-space missions and lunar colonization, but also as a technology demonstrator for a new class of interplanetary probes.

moon-southern_region-w-shadow-lfFor space travellers, water ice on the Moon is like gold in the Klondike – and probably more valuable. If there is a substantial amount of ice in the perpetually shadowed craters at the lunar poles, it would provide fuel and water for spacecraft and manned lunar outposts. Probes like Lunar Prospector, Clementine, Chandrayaan-1, and the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter have been very successful at finding traces of ice, but, according to NASA, they lacked instruments operating in the infrared wavelength bands, which are most suitable for detecting water molecules. Read more