Evaporative off-grid toilets don’t need plumbing, water or electricity

April 20, 2018 by  
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2.6 billion people around the planet don’t have access to safe toilets . Not only does this impact health , but empowerment as well: women and girls “face high rates of violence when they don’t have access to safe and dignified sanitation ,” according to protein biochemist and entrepreneur Diana Yousef, CEO of change:WATER Labs . She’s working on a solution: a portable, off-grid toilet. “80 percent of disease around the world is attributable to poor sanitation,” Yousef said in a Cartier Women’s Initiative Awards YouTube video ; she’s a 2018 finalist . Indigenous groups, people living in poverty, or refugees don’t have many options to deal with an absence of proper sanitation, according to change:WATER. So they’re working on a low-cost, off-grid, compact, environmentally safe toilet able to evaporate 95 percent of sewage sans energy with the help of a simple polymer membrane. Users wouldn’t need plumbing or water to flush the toilet. Related: Ergonomically-correct ‘Wellbeing Toilet’ Helps You Poop the Right Way Cartier Women’s Initiative says that membrane acts like a sponge, “soaking up and accelerating the evaporation of liquid contents without the use of power or heat…The vapors released are pure clean water, while the dried solids left behind are safely contained inside the membrane.” This volume reduction means toilets only have to be serviced once or twice in a month. Yousef said in the video the toilet sends waste water back into nature “in its purest form” in an attempt to promote a “cycle of use and re-use in a more efficient, sustainable, low-carbon way.” Field deployment could happen later this year; Yousef has three pilot partnerships in the United States, Central America, and in the Middle East and North Africa, according to the initiative. change:WATER is up for potential funding from the Chivas Venture (you can vote for them on the Chivas website ). Yousef said funding would allow change:WATER to get working toilets to 10,000 families by 2019. + change:WATER Labs Via the Cartier Women’s Initiative Awards and Chivas Venture Image courtesy of change:WATER

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Evaporative off-grid toilets don’t need plumbing, water or electricity

The Cornelia tiny house is a peaceful writer’s studio built with reclaimed wood

April 20, 2018 by  
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One of the best things to come from the tiny home  trend is the peace of living in a quiet atmosphere – which is especially important for writers. At the request of renowned children’s author Cornelia Funke,  New Frontier Tiny Homes  created The Cornelia — which is just 24 feet in length and 8.5 feet wide. Funke’s tiny house is a serene three-in-one space that can be used as a writing studio, a guest house and a library. The Cornelia’s high vaulted ceilings provide the tiny house with plenty of vertical space. Abundant windows provide plenty of natural light and stunning views of the surrounding forest. Reclaimed barn wood covers the walls and ceilings, giving the home an inviting cabin feel. A small deck is covered with a wooden awning, creating a serene spot to enjoy the outdoors. Related: Firefighter’s self-built tiny house is an earthship on wheels The designers customized the layout of the compact space  to fit Funke’s needs. High ledges span the length of both walls to provide ample space for storing books. Minimal furnishings open up the space and keep it safe from clutter. The desk, which is located under a large window, can be folded down when not in use. A small, incredibly space-efficient kitchen is located on one end of the home and the bathroom is located in a corner of the living space. The loft, which fits a king-size bed, is accessible by a movable ladder. The efficient, modern design and lush surroundings offer plenty of inspiration for the tiny home’s creative inhabitant. + New Frontier Tiny Homes Via Apartment Therapy Images via New Frontier Tiny Homes

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The Cornelia tiny house is a peaceful writer’s studio built with reclaimed wood

How cities can fight global water insecurity

April 16, 2018 by  
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Utilities can implement a variety of demand management strategies to water the world’s concrete jungles.

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How cities can fight global water insecurity

Scientists discover first salty lakes in the Arctic and they could be a key to finding alien life

April 13, 2018 by  
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Researchers at the University of Alberta have discovered extremely salty subglacial lakes buried beneath 1800 feet (550 meters) and 2460 feet (750 meters) of ice in the Canadian Arctic . This extremely unusual find offers scientists a glimpse into how similar environments on other planets and moons function – and could help guide their search for extraterrestrial life .  Ph.D.student in radio glaciology Anja Rutishauser made the incredible discovery while studying the bedrock conditions found underneath the Devon Ice Cap, one of the Canadian Arctic’s largest ice caps. “We weren’t looking for subglacial lakes ,” Rutishauser told ScienceDaily . The ice is frozen to the ground underneath that part of the Devon Ice Cap, so we didn’t expect to find liquid water.” Rutishauser initially noticed something unusual while studying airborne radar data acquired by NASA and the University of Texas Austin. “We saw these radar signatures telling us there’s water, but we thought it was impossible that there could be liquid water underneath this ice , where it is below -10C.” Related: The world’s biggest Arctic lake isn’t as resistant to climate change as scientists thought The Devon lakes are the first subglacial lakes to be discovered in the Canadian Arctic as well as the first hypersaline lakes found on Earth. “We think they can serve as a good analog for Europa , one of Jupiter’s icy moons, which has similar conditions of salty liquid water underneath — and maybe within — an ice shell,” said Rutishauser. This similarity to lakes found on other planets may shed light on how life on other planets may exist and function. “If there is microbial life in these lakes, it has likely been under the ice for at least 120,000 years, so it likely evolved in isolation. If we can collect a sample of the water, we may determine whether microbial life exists, how it evolved, and how it continues to live in this cold environment with no connection to the atmosphere.” Via CBC  and ScienceDaily Images via Martin Sharp and Depositphotos

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Scientists discover first salty lakes in the Arctic and they could be a key to finding alien life

Thoreau’s Walden Pond is under threat from human activities

April 6, 2018 by  
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In his book first published as  Walden; or, Life in the Woods , transcendentalist Henry David Thoreau reflected on living simply in green spaces while cultivating self-sufficiency and carefully observing the natural world. His reflections were informed by his experiences living in a cabin near the edge of Walden Pond in Concord, Massachusetts . Today, Walden Pond remains a cherished local landmark, where people enjoy hiking and swimming. However, since Thoreau’s time, Walden Pond has suffered from climate change,  erosion  and even human pee. In the mid-1800s, Thoreau described the “crystalline purity” of the water in Walden Pond, a characteristic still observable today. However, that may soon change as the effects of climate change take hold. In  a recently published paper on the environmental health of Walden Pond , researchers concluded that major changes in the algal content of the lake began in the 20th century and continue to threaten it today. According to the paper, “The sediment darkening and high percentages of [ algae ] in the recent sediments of Walden Pond … indicate not only that the lake ecosystem is now quite different from that described by Thoreau but also that it may be primed for more severe reductions in water clarity in a warming future.” Related: Thresher sharks die in Massachusetts – likely due to cold shock As global temperatures continue to rise , more people looking for relief from the humid summer weather in Massachusetts may find their way into the pond for a refreshing dip. Researchers concluded that more than half of the phosphorous content in the pond “may now be attributable to urine released by swimmers.” The good news is that Walden Pond has seen its environmental health improve in recent decades. However, vigilance is necessary to preserve Walden for future generations. Via The Guardian Images via Ekabhishek , Terryballard and Cbaile19

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Thoreau’s Walden Pond is under threat from human activities

Uravu’s zero-electricity Aqua Panels produce gallons of water from thin air

April 4, 2018 by  
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Uravu , a startup based in Hyderabad, India, has created a device that can produce water from an unlikely source–the air itself. The company’s affordable, electricity-free Aqua Panels use solar thermal energy to convert vapor into usable water – and they should be available to the public within two years. “There’s no need of any electricity or moving parts,” Uravu co-founder Swapnil Shrivastav told Quartz India . “It is just a passive device that you can leave on your rooftop and it will generate water. The process starts at night, and by evening next day you’ll have water.” Uravu is named after a Malayalam word that sometimes refers to freshwater springs and can be translated as “source.” While the technology behind Uravu’s system is not new, it did have some problems. “You need high humidity and energy consumption (involved) is high,” said Shrivastav, referring to the outdated technology. “There are a lot of moving parts. What we wanted to do was have a simple modular device.” The company found inspiration in the fact that the atmosphere is constantly holding various amounts of moisture. “So that got us thinking why this resource isn’t being utilised,” said Shrivastav. “[Water vapor] also doesn’t limit itself to desalination which happens only in the coast. Or rainfall which doesn’t happen everywhere.” Related: Giant curtain built in Peru to study climate change in the cloud forests To produce drinking water , users will have to supplement their device with an attachable mineral cartridge. The current prototype generates approximately 50 liters (13.20 gallons) daily, though the team hopes to someday develop a machine capable of producing 2,000 liters (528.34 gallons) per day. “Initially we’ll be working with governments and strategic partners, and we want to reach places where there is water scarcity , such as parts of Rajasthan and Andhra Pradesh, and rural areas,” explained Shrivastav. “We will be trying to start with a household device and aim at community-level projects.” + Uravu Via Quartz India Images via Depositphotos and Uravu

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Uravu’s zero-electricity Aqua Panels produce gallons of water from thin air

Water purification breakthrough can even clean water from the Dead Sea

April 3, 2018 by  
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Despite all our advances, access to clean water is still a major problem – not just for developing nations, but here in the US, where water shortages during natural disasters can cost lives. Scientists have created a cost-effective technology that addresses this problem using hydrogels. Using ambient solar energy, these gel-polymer hybrid materials can produce clean water from any source – including salt water from the Dead Sea. A team led by Guihua Yu at the University of Texas Austin created a hydrogel that is both hydrophilic and semiconducting. “We have essentially rewritten the entire approach to conventional solar water evaporation,” Yu said. The system works by creating water vapor under sunlight and then pumping the vapor into a condenser to deliver the freshwater. It also filters out contaminants that are harmful when consumed. Related: New MIT water purification method eliminates even trace chemical waste and pesticides The hydrogel -based solar vapor generator can desalinate water much more affordably than current options using much less power. “Water desalination through distillation is a common method for mass production of freshwater. However, current distillation technologies, such as multi-stage flash and multi-effect distillation, require significant infrastructures and are quite energy-intensive,” said Fei Zhao, a researcher involved in the project. Tests produced 25 liters of water per square meter – plenty for disaster-stricken areas or household use. Via Phys.org Images via UT at Austin

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Water purification breakthrough can even clean water from the Dead Sea

China’s new rain-making system could increase rainfall by billions of cubic feet

April 2, 2018 by  
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China needs water — and their answer to the issue is a massive weather modification system being developed by the China Aerospace Science and Technology Corporation (CASC). South China Morning Post (SCMP) reported the country is testing technology that could increase rainfall in the Tibetan Plateau by as much as 10 billion cubic meters, or around 353 billion cubic feet, every year. Will a huge rain-making system help China with water issues ? SCMP said they plan to build tens of thousands of chambers across the Tibetan mountains to generate rain over an area of around 620,000 square miles, or “three times the size of Spain.” The chambers will burn solid fuel to create silver iodide, which SCMP described as a “ cloud-seeding agent with a crystalline structure much like ice.” They said the chambers will be located on steep ridges facing the south Asia monsoon . Wind striking the mountain will produce an upward draft, carrying particles into clouds to bring about rain. Related: World’s largest fog harvester produces water from thin air in the Moroccan desert Real-time data from 30 weather satellites , each one watching monsoon weather above the Indian Ocean, will guide daily operation of the chambers. The ground-based network will also draw on cloud-seeding methods with drones , planes, and artillery to maximize the impact of the system, according to SCMP. A researcher on the project told SCMP, “[So far,] more than 500 burners have been deployed on alpine slopes in Tibet, Xinjiang, and other areas for experimental use. The data we have collected show very promising results.” The publication said although the idea isn’t a new one, China is the first country to try “such a large-scale application,” and  space scientists designed and built the chambers with “cutting edge military rocket engine technology.” Via South China Morning Post Images via Depositphotos and Eutah Mizushima on Unsplash

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China’s new rain-making system could increase rainfall by billions of cubic feet

Meridian Line launches ethically sourced, organic cotton jeans for the outdoors

April 2, 2018 by  
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Adventure calling? Gear up with Meridian Line, a range of eco-friendly denim designed for conquering the great outdoors. Available for pre-ordering through Kickstarter , the men’s and women’s jeans infuse ethically sourced organic cotton with two percent spandex to allow “freedom of movement without looking like you just stepped out of yoga class,” according to the Kansas City, Missouri–based firm. Meridian Line is the brainchild of artist Jeremy Collins, who launched the company with a series of graphic T-shirts and accessories in 2014. Two years later, Collins enlisted Benji Thrasher, formerly the lead designer at Prana , to kick Meridian Line’s offerings up a notch; the jeans emerged from the drawing board shortly after. But active performance isn’t the denim’s only twist. Each pair of pants also boasts artwork by Collins on the inner pockets, yoke, and turn-ups. The print is based on one of Collins’s signature pieces: a greenery-ringed compass inset with a salmon and an eagle at play (or perhaps prey?) in a yin-yang configuration. Meridian Line’s denim is “built for outdoor activities, travel, and a casual, dareful, or professional lifestyle,” Collins and Thrasher said. “Our jeans are made to go wherever you do: urban, mountain, or board meeting.” Prices for both men’s and women’s styles start at an accessible $79, or 20 percent less than what the jeans will cost when they hit retail outlets later this year. If you’re looking for the whole top-to-toe look, a pledge of $105 will snag you a pair of jeans, an exclusive tee, and a trucker hat. + Meridian Line at Kickstarter + Meridian Line

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Meridian Line launches ethically sourced, organic cotton jeans for the outdoors

How blockchain, AI and other emerging technologies could end water insecurity

April 2, 2018 by  
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Get ready for decentralized infrastructure and more effective recycling systems. And that’s just a start.

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How blockchain, AI and other emerging technologies could end water insecurity

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