Portable device detects toxic blue-green algae in water

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.


You probably wouldn’t need to be told not to swim in this – a particularly scummy cyanobacteria infestation

According to the World Health Organization, cyanobacterial toxins can cause reactions such as skin irritation, stomach cramps, vomiting, nausea, diarrhea, fever, sore throat, headache, muscle and joint pain, blisters of the mouth and liver damage. Those toxins can be ingested not only through deliberate drinking of the water, but also via bathing. Read more

Oxijet air shower reduces water use by 50 percent

Low-flow shower heads are a good way to save water, but using one can be a bit like showering with a spray bottle. New Zealand company Felton, in collaboration with Australia’s Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO), has developed the Oxijet – an “air shower” head that injects tiny air bubbles into the water droplets to make the shower feel like it’s at full pressure, yet while using 50 percent less water.


“Traditional flow restrictors reduce flow and pressure, whereas Oxijet uses the flow energy to draw air into the water stream, making the water droplets hollow,” Dr. Jie Wu, a fluids specialist at CSIRO said. “This expands the volume of the shower stream, meaning you can save the same amount of water, while still enjoying your shower.” Read more

WaterBean purifies tap water to reduce plastic bottle waste

It’s a given that recycling waste products is a good thing. It’s certainly better than sending our trash to landfill where it will sit rotting (or not, in the case of non-biodegradable waste) for decades to come. However, even better than recycling is to not create the waste in the first place. Bottled water is now big business, and more popular than ever before, but bottled water guzzles energy and creates waste that really doesn’t need to be created. The WaterBean portable water filter offers one possible solution to the problem.


WaterBean is a portable water filter which “purifies” tap water. The word “purifies” is in quotation marks because WaterBean will not turn a dirty puddle into water you’d want (or be advised) to drink. Rather than being designed as a system for people in developing countries to use to make dirty water clean enough to drink, WaterBean is designed to persuade people who currently buy endless bottles of water to stick with one bottle for a long time. Read more

Water Balance reminds you to love your houseplants

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.


Water Balance is a concept design for a unique vase that hangs on a wall in your home as a reminder to water your plants. It was created by Risako Matsumoto, a member of the Design Soil collective.

By using a rounded piece of wood balanced on a fulcrum, Water Balance gives a voice to the flower contained in the small cylindrical vase that hangs on one side of the pivot point. On the other side is an adjustable weight that counterbalances the flower when it is topped up with water. As the water evaporates, so the weighted side drops. Read more

AROUND THE HOME Orbital Systems’ recycling shower claims to conserve 90% of its water

A Swedish technology company called Orbital Systems is tackling the issue of water conservation with a new household shower that purifies any water that goes down the drain and sends it back to the shower head. By the company’s estimations, its closed-loop system could retain over 90 percent of the water and 80 percent of the energy consumed by an ordinary shower.


The OrbSys Shower, as the creators have been calling it, is fairly simple in concept, but requires some cutting-edge technology to function properly. To recycle the water coming out of it, a sophisticated filtering system and pump is fitted directly beneath the shower drain in the floor. As the soapy, used water flows into the drain, it’s immediately purified and pumped right back into the shower to be re-used again and again. It’s a similar system to the kind astronauts use on space shuttles, which may explain why Orbital Systems has collaborated with the Johnson Space Center at NASA on the project. Read more