Student Creates Water-Quality Tracker for Isolated Communities
A portable water-quality monitor has been developed by a team at the University of Bath in England. The On-site Aquatic Safety Inspection System (OASIS) carries out rapid water-quality analysis to detect potential contaminants in water sources. The student-led team, Bath Biodevices Without Borders, worked alongside staff members to combine water diagnostic technology with GPS to develop the OASIS.
When submerged in water, the device analyzes water safety by using a series of electrochemical sensors to detect contaminants that include chlorides, fluorides, and nitrates, and it measures the water’s pH levels, temperature, and turbidity. OASIS data can be easily transmitted to a smartphone and added to a global mapping of water quality.
Each component of the open-source project was designed as affordably as possible to improve its potential impact and global reach. Long-term effort is also underway to develop further attachments and create a network of local jobs and positions in water-quality monitoring to aid socioeconomic challenges in isolated communities.
Scientists Map Global Groundwater Depletion
The Desert Research Institute (DRI) has released a new mapping of groundwater that has been depleted worldwide. Factors such as climate change and population growth have increased the need for water globally, and, in turn, aquifers underground are depleted to replenish the waters above.
The mapping was performed by a team made up of members from DRI, Colorado State University, and the Missouri University of Science and Technology. The team combined public data about aquifer storage systems with predictive computer modeling. The results showed that the rate of disappearance was 17 cubic kilometers per year. Nearly 75 percent of the aquifers are permanently lost from cropland and urban areas, and most of the loss is documented in the United States, China, and Iran. Fahim Hasan, a PhD candidate at Colorado State University and the study’s lead author, expressed the need to utilize this information to improve groundwater management systems.
Even Treated Sewage Harms Freshwater Ecosystems
A yearlong study into the impact of treated sewage in freshwater ecosystems has found that negative results still occur despite the treatment. Research was led by Ioar de Guzman, a freshwater ecologist at the University of the Basque Country in Spain. The study was performed after collecting data from an unpolluted stream in regular conditions, followed by a split of the stream into two sections and studying the ecosystem of each section over the course of a year. One section was kept as a control while the other was diluted with treated wastewater. Researchers observed both the changes in ecological inventory and energy flow.
“Even after treatment,” de Guzman said, “toxic compounds and nutrients still remain.” De Guzman reported that there was a decrease in the amount of energy transfer down the ecological pathway from the stream, attributed to the effluent added to the stream’s flow. Disruptions like these can severely impact the health and delicate balance of an ecosystem. This research indicates that current efforts to maintain sensitive and valuable aquatic systems may be insufficient.
Aston University Scientists Explore Sustainable Separation Using Bio-Inspired Membranes
A team of scientists at Aston University in Birmingham, England, has begun to explore sustainable separation techniques using membranes inspired by biology. The scientists are utilizing a technique called molecular selectivity. These membranes use transport channels at approximately four nanometers to 10 nanometers in size, allowing for the selective removal of microbiological contaminants from water.
Dr. Matt Derry, a lecturer in Aston’s College of Engineering and Physical Sciences, will be leading the team in this research, which is funded and backed by the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council. Derry hopes that this approach will lead to new membranes with high performance and low costs, which will contribute to a circular economy. Research is scheduled to start April 2024 and end in May 2026.