Friday, December 12, 2014

Making Salt Water Drinkable Just Got 99 Percent Easier

source: http://gizmodo.com/5990876/lockheeds-new-carbon-filter-takes-all-the-effort-out-of-desalinization

Making Salt Water Drinkable Just Got 99 Percent EasierExpand

Access to steady supplies of clean water is getting more and more difficult in the developing world, especially as demand skyrockets. In response, many countries have turned to the sea for potable fluids but existing reverse osmosis plants rely on complicated processes that are expensive and energy-intensive to operate. Good thing, engineers at Lockheed Martin have just announced a newly-developed salt filter that could reduce desalinization energy costs by 99 percent.

The Reverse Osmosis process works on a simple principle: molecules within a liquid will flow across a semipermeable membrane from areas! of high er concentration to lower until both sides reach an equilibrium. But that same membrane can act as a filter for large molecules and ions if outside pressure is applied to one side of the system. For desalinization, the process typically employs a sheet of thin-film composite (TFC) membrane which is made from an active thin-film layer of polyimide stacked on a porous layer of polysulfone. The problem with these membranes is that their thickness requires the presence of large amounts of pressure (and energy) to press water through them.

Lockheed Martin's Perforene, on the other hand, is made from single atom-thick sheets of graphene. Because the sheets are so thin, water flows through them far more easily than through a conventional TFC. Filters made through the Perforene process would incorporate filtering holes just 100 nm in diameter—large enough to let water molecules through but small enough to capture dissolved salts. It looks a bit like chicken wire when viewed under a microscope, John Stetson, the Lockheed engineer credited with its invention, told Reuters. But ounce for ounce, its 1000 times stronger than steel.

"It's 500 times thinner than the best filter on the market today and a thousand times stronger," Stetson explained to Reuters. "The energy that's required and the pressure that's required to filter salt is approximately 100 times less."

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Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Some of Canada's Lakes Are Turning Into Jelly Thanks to Acid Rain

Source: http://gizmodo.com/acid-rain-is-turning-canadas-lakes-into-jelly-1660627061

Some of Canada's Lakes Are Turning Into Jelly Thanks to Acid Rain

It's a real bummer to hear that 150 years of industrialization wrecked the Earth so bad that it'll take thousands to recover. It's a much bigger bummer to see the situation in real life. That's exactly what's happening in a large number of Canada's lakes, which are turning into jelly thanks to acid rain.

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Monday, November 17, 2014

Toshiba joins other tech giants in growing super-clean vegetables

Source: http://www.engadget.com/2014/11/16/toshiba-vegetables/

The name "Toshiba" conjures images of stacks of laptops piled high and maybe the occasional television, but the Japanese electronics giant is turning its attention to something just a little more humble: lettuce. Well, spinach too. And swiss chard. Quartz's Dan Frommer tells the tale of a Toshiba-owned clean room nestled in the industrial corners of Yokosuka where people clad in special suits dutifully plant seeds and plop them on tall racks under an array of fluorescent lights. The end result? Tasty veggies that you won't need to wash (though if you're a mild hypochondriac like your author, you'd probably give 'em a quick rinse anyway).

Toshiba isn't diving into the world of clean cuisine just because it wants to appease Japan's gourmands. No no -- it aims to produce some 3 million bags of greens a year to help firm up its position as an end-to-end healthcare company. It's actually pretty brilliant, if a bit paradoxical: Toshiba wants to sell those healthy, pristine greens and the technology (mostly centered around internal imaging for now) that'll help when something ails you. It's not the only Japanese megaconglomerate to dabble in a spot of indoor agriculture, either. Sony converted a closed semiconductor factory in Miyagi prefecture into an elaborate growing operation that churns out specially tweaked lettuce that's chock full of extra beta carotene, and Fujitsu -- a massive company that dabbles in some really obtuse stuff -- has a room in Wakamatsu churning out low-potassium lettuce for folks with chronic kidney disorders. Forget about hacking gadgets together, maybe the future is in hacking the very stuff that keeps us going.

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Source: Quartz

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Saturday, November 15, 2014

Google and conservationists are tracking boats to stop illegal fishing

Source: http://www.engadget.com/2014/11/14/google-oceana-globalfishingwatch-overfishing/

Overfishing has been a problem for ages, but oceans are big and it's not as if the water police authorities can track where every boat drops its nets. At least, until now, since thanks to Google, SkyTruth and Oceana, we're now close to being able to pinpoint where every boat is in every ocean. Culling data from AIS - the automatic identification system that boats are required to broadcast so that they don't get lost - the trio can overlay that imagery with satellite maps to show if any boat is operating in a prohibited zone. Currently, GlobalFishingWatch can only show you data from 2012-2013 for boats that are either registered as fishing vessels or displaying "fishing like" activity, but the plan is to build out the system so that it works in near-to real time. Of course, there are still holes in the system, since any vessel can disable their AIS -- although that's almost enough of a reason to haul 'em in to be interrogated by the cops. Maybe this will be the inspiration for a whole new series called Law and Order: Environmental Crimes Unit.

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Via: The Verge, Wired

Source: Global Fishing Watch

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Saturday, November 8, 2014

Dead fish in Rio Olympic bay baffle scientists

Source: http://www.businessinsider.com/afp-dead-fish-in-rio-olympic-bay-baffle-scientists-2014-11

Thousands of dead fish have begun mysteriously washing up in the polluted Rio bay that will host sailing events at the 2016 Olympics -- and experts are at a loss to explain why

Rio de Janeiro (AFP) - Thousands of dead fish have begun mysteriously washing up in the polluted Rio bay that will host sailing events at the 2016 Olympics -- and experts are at a loss to explain why.

Guanabara Bay has already been the subject of concern amongst sailors who are to compete in Rio because of the human sewage that gets pumped into its waters.

The International Olympic Committee (IOC) has expressed confidence that Guanabara will be fit for purpose by the time of the games.

But the recent appearance of thousands of dead fish, and the foul stench of their rotting carcasses, has attracted further scrutiny with the Olympics less than two years away.

Scientists are baffled by the phenomenon but say there is no evidence so far to suggest pollution is the cause.

The foul odor first took over the usually peaceful Paqueta Island, where cars are banned and the population of 4,500 people travels on horseback or bicycle among the only baobab trees in Brazil.

With the help of a bulldozer, a municipal company has removed 20 tonnes of dead sabalo fish -- from the Clupeidae family of herrings and sardines -- as well as four dead sea turtles.

"Tests showed that this is not a matter of chemical or toxic water pollution," Rio do Janeiro State University oceanographer David Zee told AFP.

Leandro Daemon of the National Institute for the Environment, or INEA, agreed that water testing had not identified any toxic chemicals or any unusual change in the water's pH (potential of hydrogen), salinity or oxygen.

"We have no answer yet about what happened, but we can certainly exclude the hypothesis of a chemical pollution killing the fish," he said.

- 'Don't go in' -

But not everyone is so sure.

Worried fishermen and islanders are pointing the finger at the petrochemical activities of state giant Petrobras.

"We want to know why so many fish have died. The rotten smell is horrible and there are many flies on the island. The authorities tell us nothing," said Vilma Leocadio of the Paqueta citizens' association.

"We are afraid, we do not bathe in the sea any more and do not buy fish here."

Rosimere Figueiredo, 52, said Paqueta was in distress.

"I do not encourage you to step in the water with all those dead bodies of fish. We see them dying," she said.

Five of the fish were sent Tuesday to the Federal University of Rio de Janeiro's biology department for analysis, and the results will be announced in a week.

Experts want to know if there are any signs of pollution or disease in the entrails or gills.

- High temperatures to blame? -

One hypothesis is that the culprit is predatory fishing. 

At this time of year, fishing is prohibited, but it is common for fishermen to still work, catching fish like sabalo that have a lower market value, Zee said.

But the expert said the likeliest scenario was that the deaths are caused by "thermal pollution" of the water.

"Sabalo are very sensitive to any lack of oxygen. Warm water temperatures such as those recorded several days ago -- ranging from 27 to 30 degrees Celsius (81 to 86 Fahrenheit) -- in shallow water decrease the solubility of oxygen," Zee said.

He noted that Paqueta is located at the bottom of the Rio bay, where water circulation and exchange is more difficult, a phenomenon exacerbated by the low tide.

"What is striking is the duration of this mortality and also the high temperature of the water," said biologist Mario Moscatelli, who has studied the bay's waters for 20 years.

"I flew over the area in early October, and fish were floating. At first, we thought they were thrown into the sea by fishermen. But before too long, I saw them dying in a way that seemed they were missing oxygen."

He said the sabalo, being more sensitive, are the first fish to die in the Rodrigo de Freitas Lagoon, which contains sea water carried through a canal in Rio's southern zone.

"But in case of chemical contamination, other species will die," he said. "We have more questions than answers. We must wait for the results of the analysis."

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Monday, October 27, 2014

Satellite Dishes Can Turn Toxic Waste From Fracking Into Clean Water

Source: http://gizmodo.com/satellite-dishes-can-turn-toxic-waste-from-fracking-int-1651380272

Satellite Dishes Can Turn Toxic Waste From Fracking Into Clean Water

In the past few years, earthquakes in Oklahoma have been on the mysterious rise—the state has had more earthquakes than even California. Why? One big fat finger has been pointed at fracking, in which toxic wastewater is injected into wells that can leak and lubricate faults. We clearly need a better solution for this wastewater, and that solution may involve satellite dishes .

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Thursday, October 23, 2014

Article: This everlasting battery is made from recycled vanadium and ready to plug in

After a decade of development, a $100 million in funding, and some twists and turns (including a name change), Silicon Valley startup Imergy Power Systems will soon start shipping the next generation of its batteries made from recycled vanadium. The 50-kilowatt battery will be available next mont...

https://gigaom.com/2014/10/23/this-everlasting-battery-is-made-from-recycled-vanadium-ready-to-plug-in/

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