Across the globe, 2.5 billion people lack access to improved sanitation. One billion have to defecate in the open, 748 million lack access to improved drinking water and 1.8 billion use a source of drinking water contaminated with faeces. These are some of the statistics that highlight the enormity of the challenge facing the world if the draft Sustainable Development Goal of safe drinking water, sanitation and hygiene for all is to be achieved by 2030. Read more
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‘Water grabbing’ refers to a situation in which public or private entities are able to take control of, or reallocate, precious water resources for profit or for power — and at the expense of local communities and the ecosystems on which their livelihoods are based.
The effects have been well-documented: examples include families driven away from their villages to make room for mega dams, privatization of water sources that fails to improve access for the public, and industrial activity that damages water quality.
This piece, taken from the atlas “Watergrabbing – a Story of Water”, part of a project funded by the European Journalism Centre, outlines the history and impacts of hydropower as well as planned mega dams in key locations across the globe. Read more
Researchers at Caltech and Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (Berkeley Lab) have — in just two years — nearly doubled the number of materials known to have potential for use in solar fuels.
They did so by developing a process that promises to speed the discovery of commercially viable solar fuels that could replace coal, oil, and other fossil fuels.
Solar fuels, a dream of clean-energy research, are created using only sunlight, water, and carbon dioxide (CO2). Researchers are exploring a range of target fuels, from hydrogen gas to liquid hydrocarbons, and producing any of these fuels involves splitting water.
Each water molecule is comprised of an oxygen atom and two hydrogen atoms. The hydrogen atoms are extracted, and then can be reunited to create highly flammable hydrogen gas or combined with CO2 to create hydrocarbon fuels, creating a plentiful and renewable energy source. The problem, however, is that water molecules do not simply break down when sunlight shines on them — if they did, the oceans would not cover most of the planet. They need a little help from a solar-powered catalyst. Read more
Technion researchers have demonstrated, for the first time, that laser emissions can be created through the interaction of light and water waves. This “water-wave laser” could someday be used in tiny sensors that combine light waves, sound and water waves, or as a feature on microfluidic “lab-on-a-chip” devices used to study cell biology and to test new drug therapies.
For now, the water-wave laser offers a “playground” for scientists studying the interaction of light and fluid at a scale smaller than the width of a human hair, the researchers write in the new report, published November 21 in Nature Photonics.
The study was conducted by Technion-Israel Institute of Technology students Shmuel Kaminski, Leopoldo Martin, and Shai Maayani, under the supervision of Professor Tal Carmon, head of the Optomechanics Center at the Mechanical Engineering Faculty at Technion. Carmon said the study is the first bridge between two areas of research that were previously considered unrelated to one another: nonlinear optics and water waves. Read more
California’s drought-stricken Central Valley harbors three times more groundwater than previously estimated, Stanford scientists have found. Accessing this water in an economically feasible way and safeguarding it from possible contamination from oil and gas activities, however, will be challenging.
“It’s not often that you find a ‘water windfall,’ but we just did,” said study co-author Robert Jackson, the Michelle and Kevin Douglas Provostial Professor at Stanford. “There’s far more fresh water and usable water than we expected.”
The research, published in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences the week of June 27, highlights the need to better characterize and protect deep groundwater aquifers not only in California but in other parched regions as well.
“Our findings are relevant to a lot of other places where there are water shortages, including Texas, China and Australia,” said study co-author Mary Kang, a postdoctoral associate at Stanford School of Earth, Energy & Environmental Sciences. Read more