A More Robust Solar Desalination Solution

ocean shore

You should drink more water. We all should drink more water, however in some places water wells are drying up and water is getting harder to get. Fortunately for us, we have a lot of ocean to drink from. Costal cities have increasingly looking towards desalination as a solution to their water problems.

Producing clean drinking water from the sea is an energy-intensive process which makes it expensive to run. Researches in Australia recently found a way to combine solar power with a new material to filter salt out of water in an incredibly efficient way.

Wang and his colleagues explain in the study that a sustainable energy source, like sunlight, would be especially useful for communities that may not have access to a reliable electric grid necessary for other methods of desalination.

“This study has successfully demonstrated that the photoresponsive [metal compounds] are a promising, energy-efficient, and sustainable adsorbent for desalination,” said Wang. “Our work provides an exciting new route for the design of functional materials for using solar energy to reduce the energy demand and improve the sustainability of water desalination.”

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Town uses Beer Waste to Save Money

beer

Waste water is a headache to deal with since it’s a complex soup of bacteria and other tiny elements which vary day to day. When a brewery puts its waste into the sewage system it can really mess things up for the facilities cleaning waste water since the chemical balance changes so drastically. A town in Montana decided to work with their local brewery to turn that negative impact into a positive one and it worked like a charm!

If you home-brew beer you should dump your leftovers from the brewing process on your garden. It’s great for the plants and, trust me, it works.

Because it’s rich in yeast, hops and sugar, brewery waste can throw off the microbes that wastewater treatment plants rely on to remove nitrogen and phosphorus. The two nutrients can cause algae blooms in rivers and kill off fish.

“But if we can use [brewery waste] correctly and put it in the right spot, it’s very beneficial to the process,” engineering consultant Coralynn Revis says.

Revis led a pilot project here last summer to try to do just that. Bozeman worked with a local brewery to feed its beer waste to the treatment plant’s bacteria at just the right time in just the right dosage.

“This is super-simplified, but like, if they’re eating their french fries, they need a little ketchup with it. So to get the nitrate out, you dose a little carbon, and the bugs are happier,” Revis explained.

She says it worked.

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Washington State Limits Water Profiteering

ocean shore

Water is a necessity for life and is the most previous resource on the planet as a result. Currently we allow massive mega-corporations to destroy ecosystems to seal water in little packets which they then sell for astronomical profits. In Ontario this issue has been raging and it looks like the “Conservative” government is only concerned with preserving the profits of a foreign company. In Washington State the opposite is happening: there they are standing up for water and ensuring that the preservation of life comes before the preservation of profits.

“Washington State is carving the path towards a groundbreaking solution,” said Mary Grant, the director of Food & Water Action’s public water for all campaign, in a statement. “This legislation … would ban one of the worst corporate water abuses – the extraction of local water supplies in plastic bottles shipped out of watersheds and around the country.”

Bottled water is the most popular packaged beverage in America by volume. But in the places where that water is sourced, the industry has enjoyed far less approval. Residents of Lewis county, in the watershed at the base of Mt St Helens in southwest Washington, have been fighting a new Crystal Geyser bottling plant that would pump and package 400 gallons a minute. SB 6278 would scuttle the company’s plans.

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Floating Garbage Bins Succeed in Toronto

Toronto just announced that the Seabin trial project was a success and now they are expanding the program. Seabins are floating garbage cans that use a solar power pump to collect debris in the water, currently the Toronto ones collect about two kilos of waste per day. It’s crazy to think how much waste ends up in local waters of a city, but at least this project is happening now in the hopes that we’ll eventually taking out more garbage than we’re currently putting in.

To ensure that the Seabins also serve a research and education function, PortsToronto has taken the added step of partnering with the University of Toronto Trash Team on a student-research project led by Dr. Chelsea Rochman, Assistant Professor of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology. As part of this collaborative initiative, students from the Rochman Lab will collect and analyze the plastics and microplastics captured by the Seabins to determine the origination of some of these materials. This process will, in turn, better inform the Trash Team’s solutions-based research and community outreach program which ultimately seeks to increase waste literacy and prevent plastics and microplastics from entering waterways in the first place.

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It’s OK to Not Wash Your Clothes

Want to save the planet? Reduce how often you wash your clothes, you don’t need to wash your shirt that you wore for only one day. This is something you can start doing today to help make a better tomorrow.

When it comes to your wardrobe overall you can alter what clothes you buy to ensure that you barely need to do laundry at all. There are new companies and clothing lines that focus on making clothes which are designed to survive multiple wears without getting dirty. I think it would be great to never have to launder anything again!

Decades of marketing from the cleaning industry has conditioned many people to throw their clothes in the laundry after one day’s wear, even though this is rarely necessary. So one of the biggest challenges for brands pitching clothes that don’t need to be washed frequently is to convince people that they will not be gross, smelly, or dirty if they aren’t constantly doing loads of laundry.

Bishop, for his part, decided to create wool blends with other materials, including nylon and linen to achieve different effects. Synthetic fibers, for instance, are able to make clothes more durable because they are hardier. This was a difficult decision, because while wool and other natural fibers are biodegradable, nylon, polyester, and other synthetics are plastic-based so they will not decompose, but sit in landfills forever. “We had some difficult decisions to make when it came to sustainability,” Bishop says. “But we decided that our goal as a brand was to make it easier for people to own fewer clothes, and keep them for longer. So we decided to incorporate synthetics.”

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