New material switches from water-repelling to water-loving with electric current

Generally, water repellent objects and those that attract or absorb water have very different microscopic-level attributes that endow them with their behavior. For example, the myriad tiny hairs on a gecko’s body help it to efficiently repel water, whilst specially treated cotton designed for harvesting water from the air contains millions of tiny pores that draw in liquid. Now researchers have discovered a way to use a single type of material to perform both functions, switching between liquid attraction and liquid repulsion, simply through the application of an electric voltage.

Developed by a team of scientists from TU Wien, the University of Zurich, and KU Levin, the new material alters its water-handling behavior by changing its surface structure at the nanoscale to effect a change at the macroscale. Specifically, the behavior of liquid on the new material is as a result of altering the “stiction” (static friction) of the molecular surface. One with a high-level of stiction keeps moisture clinging to it, whilst one with a low-level allows the liquid to run right off. Read more

New water retention technology quenches crop thirst in drought conditions

With climate change predicted to increase the severity and frequency of drought events in many part of the world, water conservation is a growing concern. New water retention technology developed at Michigan State University (MSU) could help quench the thirst of parched crops while using less water, not only enabling crops to better deal with drought, but also improving crop yields in marginal areas.

Coarse, sandy soils found in semi-arid and arid regions have large pores that absorb large quantities of rainfall. However, they retain less than 20 percent of the water in the root zone that sits between the surface and depths of 60 to 70 centimeters (24 to 27 inches), leaching losses of nutrients and other chemicals into ground water as the water drains away. Read more

80 Percent of Global Water Supplies at Risk

River biodiversity and our water security are in serious trouble, according to a comprehensive survey of waterways released yesterday. At risk are the water supplies of nearly 80 percent of humanity, and a variety of habitats along rivers that carry two-thirds of the world’s water flow.

Hotspots of concern include nearly the whole of Europe, the Indian subcontinent, eastern China, southern Mexico, and the United States east of the Rockies.

Rivers, wetlands, lakes, and the life that relies on them, are at risk around the world because of a variety of stresses, including overuse of water, pollution, introduction of exotic species, and overfishing, according to the new study, published today in the journal Nature. Read more

Aqua Zinger bottle blends water to your taste

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.

Aqua Zinger is at its core a water bottle just like any other. It’s made from stainless steel and BPA/EA-free Tritan Plastic, it’s reusable, easy to clean, and suitable for both hot and cold drinks. What divides Aqua Zinger from other water bottles on the market is the addition of a manual food blender which attaches to the underside.

This blender, which comprises a small plastic container and a detachable metal grinder, accommodates the fruit, vegetables, or herbs you need to liven up plain water. You simply put your choice of ingredients in the blender, damp them down with the grinder, and then attach the whole thing to the bottle. The act of screwing the blender onto the bottom of the bottle is what crushes and mixes the ingredients, so no batteries are required. Read more

Float helps you unwind in water without an isolation tank

In an increasingly busy and relentless world where information is flowing all around us, it’s more important than ever to switch off once in a while. There are many ways to relax, but floating in water is one of the best ways of completely and utterly drifting away. Which is where Float – designed to make floating in water a more pleasurable experience – could prove useful.

Float is a water therapy product originating from Iceland. It’s designed to aid total relaxation of body and mind by taking the effort out of floating on water. You can probably get a similar experience by floating in the sea, as salt water is denser than freshwater. But floating mindlessly in the sea carries the risk of being taken away from shore by an outgoing tide. As Float is designed to be used in a swimming pool, it’s likely to be a safer alternative. Read more