ROLE OF TECHNOLOGY IN
A global water crisis is expected by 2025 unless economically viable ways of purifying water can be developed.
One of the major threats to water supplies is contamination, from saltwater from industrial waste, from pesticides.
New sensors would help. Research labs are working on sensors specially designed to deal with monitoring and purification problems.
And once you
know your water is bad, what do you do about it? Urbana-Champaign is helping
there as well. Mark Shannon, director of the
A recent report from IBM called Water: A Global Innovation Outlook Report says there is a severe lack of data on water even in the world’s capital.
But study of this vital river system has been limited. That’s a problem. “If you’re trying to manage a system that’s changing dynamically you need to work with data that is equally dynamic,” says John Cronin, director of the Beacon Institute for Rivers and Estuaries. “You need to be able to monitor and observe the system in real time.”
To that end,
the Beacon Institute is working with IBM to develop the River and Estuary
Observation Network, a system of sensors and observation platforms that will
feed a constant stream of data to scientists and analysts. REON will measure
and monitor chemical, biological and physical data throughout the
The goal is to understand the river in real time and how it responds to everything from storms to droughts to humans. With that information, a new level of ecomanagement could be done. And that would be one small step in putting sensor technology to work in ways that will help society and businesses better understand the long-term challenges and benefits of managing the Hudson — and water everywhere
Researchers at Duke University have come to respect the power of nano-engineered buckyballs.
In one project, the engineers found that ultrafine mesh coatings made of carbon buckyballs can hinder the ability of bacteria and other microorganisms to colonize the membranes that filter impurities from water. This is one of the major problems - and costs - in treating H2O.
The bacteria builds up and attracts other organic matter. In time, a film of biological material accumulates. A reduction in membrane-replacement cost, even of 50 percent, would translate to huge savings.
Biofouling is viewed as one of the biggest costs associated with membrane-based water
A buckyball is one shape within the family of nano-carbon shapes known as fullerenes. They’re both named after Richard Buckminster Fuller, the inventor of the geodesic dome, because their shapes resemble his famous structure.
When water-filtering membranes are treated with buckyballs, the researchers discovered that only a very small number of bacteria (20 units) are able to colonize on the surface material