Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Bacteria and Nanofilters: The Future Of Clean Water Technology

Bacteria and Nanofilters:The Future of Clean Water Technology

Bacteria often get bad press, with those found in water often linked to illness and disease. But researchers at The University of Nottingham are using these tiny organisms alongside the very latest membrane filtration techniques to improve and refine water cleaning technology.

These one-celled organisms eat the contaminants present in water — whether it is being treated prior to industrial use or even for drinking — in a process called bioremediation.

The water is then filtered through porous membranes, which function like a sieve. However, the holes in these sieves are microscopic, and some are so small they can only be seen at the nanoscale. Pore size in these filters can range from ten microns — ten thousandths of a millimetre — to one nanometre — a millionth of a millimetre.

These technologies can be developed into processes which optimise the use of water — whether in an industrial system or to provide drinking water in areas where it is a scarce resource.
The research is led by Nidal Hilal, Professor of Chemical and Process Engineering in the Centre for Clean Water Technologies — a world-leading research centre developing advanced technologies in water treatment.

Current membrane technology used in water treatment processes can decrease in efficiency over time, as the membranes become fouled with contaminants. By using bioremediation the membranes can be cleaned within the closed system, without removing the membranes. Researchers at the centre have developed the technology in partnership with Cardev International, an oil filtration company based in Harrogate.

As well as being highly effective in the water treatment process, transforming industrial liquid waste contaminated with metals and oils into clean water, ultrafiltration and nanofiltration membranes have a useful side effect. The waste products have a very high calorific value, and can be used as fuel.
More on bioremediation from the USGS:

Why bioremediation works

This sounds like a good technology, though I admit I do not know all there is to know about it. As with anything of this nature the carbon footprint of it is something that needs to be considered. However, the fact that this process has the ability to provide clean water to those who would otherwise have to drink contaminated water is one I am certainly interested in, and one that may be viable in places experiencing drought.

Sunday, July 27, 2008

Himalayan Glaciers Shrinking Every Year

Himalayan Glaciers Shrinking Every Year

Glaciers in the Himalayas are retreating at an alarming rate of 15-20 metre every year, says the study jointly done by Himachal Pradesh Science and Technology Council and Space Research Station, Ahmedabad.

With rising global temperature, glaciers in Himalayas are retreating at an alarming rate of 15-20 metre every year, which could adversly impact agriculture in the region.

Mapping of 400 glaciers done jointly by the Himachal Pradesh Science and Technology Council and Space Research Station Ahmedabad since 1994 on rivers Chandra, Beas, Ravi, Satluj, Spiti and Baspa has shown that the glaciers are retreating.

"There had been a retreat of 10-15 m per year in 400 glaciers," A B Kulkarni, head of Glaciology wing of Space Research Station, Ahmedabad, said.

A Report of Geological Survey of India (GSI) says that prominent glaciers like Chota Sigri in Lahaul-Spiti district showed a retreat of 6.81 m per year, Bara Sigri 29.78 m per year, Trilokinath 17.86 m per year, Beas kund 18.8 m per year and Manimahesh 29.1 metre per year.

The mapping of glaciers through satellite picture suggests that there are in total 334 glaciers in the entire Satluj and Beas basins covering an area of 1515 sq km. Out of this 202 glaciers fall in Himachal Pradesh.

Syed Iqbal Hussnain of TERI, who is studying retreat of glaciers in Himalayas, said the situation is serious.

Hussnain, who is a member of National Action plan on climatology, suggested Himachal Pradesh government to set up a glacier commission on the pattern of one existing in Sikkim to carry field-based scientific study of glacier retreat and draw future plans to tackle the problem. Hussnain, who heads Glacier Commission of Sikkim which was set up in January this year, said the commission is making a scientific study of actual retreat and also regularly monitoring water discharge in the rivers to assess speed of retreat.

A comprehensive report will be submitted to the Sikkim government in December this year for drawing future plans, he added.

He stressed on similar field based study in Himachal Pradesh to collect true statistics which would help in drawing plans accordingly.

The temperature of Shimla has risen by one degree Celsius in last 100 years reflecting impact of global warming in the hill state, Met office sources said.

HP government is pressing the Centre to set up an institute at Lahual for study and research on glaciers in the state.

end of excerpt
I am very saddened when reading these reports because it appears that glacier melt has reached a tipping point. I am also angry because in the US people are still bickering over whether climate change exists and what is causing it while millions of people around the world suffer the effects of it. Just what is wrong with Americans on the whole? I am one too, but at this point I am embarrassed at the way many people in the US continue their petty politically partisan bickering about this as people suffer. Is this truly a result of the atmosphere that exists regarding the undemocratic media coverage we get in this country? Or are people basically on the whole just selfish to the point that they don't care what happens to anyone else in the world as long as it isn't them? Do they simply not understand that what we do to planet Earth and to others we do to ourselves?

I have been wracking my brain trying to understand how after all of the evidence presented why people still feel it necessary to be in the 'debate' stage when we should be in the 'planning and action' stages. Just what has to happen to bring us to that point in the US and around the world? A true catastrophe?

Well, here's one for you: Billions of people depend on the water provided by the Himalayas and without it there will be no water for those people. No water, no food. No food, people will move and forage for it and that means millions to hundreds of millions of climate refugees looking to other lands for the food and water they need to survive. How many other countries in this world would be willing to take in hundreds of millions of climate refugees, or for that matter, physically be able to do it?

This is where the 'planning and action' stages usually come in handy. However, as we have seen from the G-8 summit to the current one in Rome, governments of this world are still twiddling their thumbs on this. It is as if they wish to get to that point of no return to have an excuse to institute the 'One World Order' they wish to have. Now, that may sound a little 'conspiracy theory' to some. However, consider the current 'global food crisis' we keep hearing the World Bank go on about suddenly all in line with pushing genetically modified foods on us. Up to this point, Europe and most of the world besides the US, Germany, Brazil, and Argentina have spurned this unneccessary technology in favor of natural foods as it should be, which of course does not leave them beholding to multinationals like Monsanto, ADM, Cargill, and other companies looking to monopolize the food and seed markets of the world (along with water.)

Therefore, heightening the fear of a worse food crisis along with higher prices is only serving to make countries think twice now about a technology they up to this point were against for a very valid reason: the science proving it is safe is simply not in.

The same kind of panic is being fanned regarding the 'global water crisis.' Now, mind you, I do believe we are in a crisis stage regarding water in many countries in Africa right now and aproaching it elsewhere, but we still have time to work on having water declared a human right and to bring effective conservation methods to these countries along with the infrastructure necessary to conserve enough water to live, along with more efficient irrigation practices. However, Dow Chemical is pushing it now because they want to buy up desalination plants to make money, and I have no doubt that will be pushed more and more over the next few years as this crisis gets progressively worse if we do not act accordingly. So, it isn't hard to understand why governments are not really dealing with this crisis regarding our climate with any real urgency and basically dragging their feet. They serve to make much money from it.

Look already at the countries flocking to the Arctic to claim the oil reserves and other minerals under it. Is there any real urgency on their part to slow down the melting in the first place by calling for more stringent limits on greenhouse gases in order to preserve our fragile climate balance? No. It all comes to this: greed has taken over the core of humanity and it will be our downfall if we do not see the true moral importance of what is now being reaped from what we have sown.

In the case of the Himalayas, the Arctic, Antarctica, and glaciers around the world... these are our harbingers... our missives of the future telling us that we have gone astray and the only way to save ourselves is to see the damage we are doing to this planet and have the moral courage to correct it provided we do it now before it is truly too late. In the case of the Himalayas, that may already be true and it is a sad reflection on the human species. That is simply not the legacy we must leave to future generations.

Another World Water Day Gone

We see another World Water Day pass us by. The theme, Water For All, signifies that though some progress has been made we are woefully behin...