5,300 U.S. water systems are in violation of lead rules

Read the full story at CNN. [Warning: video autoplays]

Eighteen million Americans live in communities where the water systems are in violation of the law. Moreover, the federal agency in charge of making sure those systems are safe not only knows the issues exist, but it’s done very little to stop them, according to a new report and information provided to CNN by multiple sources and water experts.

Webinar: Remote Methods for Water Conservation

July 14, 2016, 11 am CDT
Register at https://cc.readytalk.com/r/sll2q8wn0ig&eom

“Overview of Water Policy, Regulations and Current Challenges Facing Military Installations in Regions with Scarce Water Resources” by Ms. Kathryn Ostapuk

Viable and sustainable water resources are becoming scarcer, and competition for these resources is growing every day. Long term sustainability will take ingenuity, not just on the part of the Department of Defense (DoD), but in the communities where our installations are located. Engaging in new legislative initiatives and regulatory frameworks is one way to ensure that our installations are an integral part of the solution. As an example, California is home to 30 major military installations and has been enduring a sustained severe drought that has significantly depleted groundwater reserves. DoD has supported several initiatives in California such as the passage of the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act (SGMA) as well as regulatory programs that support new standards for water conservation, recycled water, brine discharge and storm water reuse. All of these programs will preserve water resources for our DoD installations into the future.

“Innovative Acoustic Sensor Technologies for Leak Detection in Challenging Pipe Types” by Mr. Gary Anguiano

Reducing water loss at Department of Defense (DoD) installations is important to preserve potable water needed for essential functions and to limit the drawdown of local water supplies. Systemic failures (ruptures, pinholes and cracks) on older pipe systems caused by corrosion, subsidence, excessive pressure and faulty construction result in significant water losses at many DoD facilities. Often, these breaches (leaks) go unnoticed for months before they are identified, resulting in significant water losses. Accurate leak detection technologies are urgently needed to both detect and pinpoint leaks so that timely and efficient repairs can be made. Implementation of improved leak detection technologies supports Federal and DoD sustainability goals, specifically Executive Order 13693 which requires installations to take more proactive measures to reduce water loss. This project assessed the accuracy of both temporary and permanent leak detection technologies with enhanced cross-correlation features to detect and pinpoint leaks on challenging polyvinyl chloride pipe, as well as metallic pipe. The project quantified the leak detection and location performance of the acoustic sensor technologies on a buried pipeline test bed with 11 simulated leaks of defined leak size and location. Results from the test bed show that the majority of known leaks were detected and located within an accuracy of 4 feet, and that leaks as small as 1 gallon per minute were detectable.

Webinar: Food: Too Good to Waste — Community results and lessons learned

Thu, Jul 21, 2016 12:00 PM – 1:30 PM CDT
Register at https://attendee.gotowebinar.com/register/6987235140363629059

Currently, over 30% of the food currently grown and processed in the U.S. goes uneaten. When wholesome, edible food ends up in a landfill, all those embedded resources (along with the money spent on them) also get wasted. This impacts the environment, our community and the bottom line. The Food: Too Good to Waste toolkit was designed and developed for local governments and other community partners to help prevent wasted food in households. This community food waste prevention toolkit has been tested throughout the US and helps households save money while reducing wasted food by up to 50%. During this webinar we will present results from an evaluation report on several campaign implementations and hear from three of those communities who successfully implemented this toolkit.

Scotch egg company claims to have cracked problem of eggshell waste

Read the full story in The Guardian.

An egg mayonnaise supplier has partnered with scientists at Leicester University to turns leftover eggshells into a filler for plastics.

The world has the right climate goals — but the wrong ambition levels to achieve them

Read the full story in the Washington Post.

It was a unique and historic moment, one of forward-looking international collaboration and unity that now poses a stark contrast to the Brexit crisis wracking Europe.

On Dec. 12 of last year, 195 nations assembled in Paris agreed to a climate agreement that would make the world more than the sum of its parts. It would pool together all of their individual pledges to cut emissions and require the strengthening of those pledges over time and so help ensure a world in which temperatures stay “well below” a 2-degrees Celsius increase over the pre-industrial past — or, better yet, no more than a 1.5-degrees Celsius rise.

Since then, scientists have increasingly affirmed that, yes, this is the right target to be shooting for. Stopping warming somewhere between 1.5 and 2 degrees Celsius, according to a recent analysis, would still pose a severe threat to coral reefs and the stability of West Antarctica but might avoid most other grave tipping points in the climate system, such as the collapse of East Antarctic glaciers or wintertime Arctic sea ice.

With a little luck, then, such a target could indeed avoid the worst of what has been conjured in a world of runaway climate change. However, there’s a big problem: hitting the target.

Gizmo Attaches To Garbage Disposals, Turns Food Waste Into Compost

Read the full story from the Huffington Post.

A tiny tweak can have a huge impact.

Six students at Rice University have created a motor-operated device that attaches to your food disposal and turns food waste into compost, which can be used as nutrient-rich soil.

The mechanical gadget, called BioBlend, is activated whenever someone turns on a food disposal. BioBlend then separates food waste by chopping it up and straining out water.

The water is then sent to a municipal wastewater treatment, while the food waste is stored under your sink until it can be composted — or used for biogas generation, which uses waste to generate gas for cooking.

Survey of Intersex Occurrence in Largemouth Bass (Micropterus salmoides) from the Upper Illinois River Waterway

Mark W. Fritts, Jason A. Deboer , Andrea K. Fritts, Kristen A. Kellock, Robert B. Bringolf, Andrew F. Casper (2016). “Survey of Intersex Occurrence in Largemouth Bass (Micropterus salmoides) from the Upper Illinois River Waterway.” The American Midland Naturalist 176(1), 158-165. DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1674/0003-0031-176.1.158

Abstract: Intersex condition (ooctyes in testicular tissue) has been documented in many watersheds among a diverse variety of fishes worldwide. However, few studies have tested for the occurrence of the condition in fishes from rivers of the American Midwest. Midwestern watersheds, such as the Illinois River Waterway, U.S.A. may provide important new information about the effects of endocrine disrupting chemicals (EDCs) on fishes because of the variety of urban, industrial, and agricultural land uses within the watersheds. A first step in the study of EDCs in any ecosystem is a survey to document the symptoms of EDC exposure, such as intersex condition. Our objective was to test for intersex condition in male largemouth bass Micropterus salmoides in the lower Des Plaines River, an area directly affected by surface runoff and wastewater effluents from the Chicago Metropolitan Area. Histological analysis indicated that testicular oocytes were present in 21 of 51 (41%) largemouth bass sampled and oocyte numbers ranged from 1–25/thin section among intersex individuals. Our study details the severity of intersex in a population of largemouth bass near a major metropolitan area, which represents an important contribution to the understanding of fish reproductive ecology in ecosystems with a history of environmental disturbance and recovery such as the Illinois River Waterway.

5 ways Brexit will transform energy and climate

Read the full story at Politico.

Britain’s departure from the EU will force broad changes to the bloc’s energy and climate policies, and remove a crucial ally for Central Europeans — but it will also give London far more freedom to pursue nuclear projects.

Penguins and climate change

Read the full story from the University of Delaware.

It’s a big question: how is climate change in Antarctica affecting Adélie penguins?

Climate has influenced the distribution patterns of Adélie penguins across Antarctica for millions of years. The geologic record tells us that as glaciers expanded and covered Adélie breeding habitats with ice, penguin colonies were abandoned. When the glaciers melted during warming periods, this warming positively affected the Adélie penguins, allowing them to return to their rocky breeding grounds.

But now, University of Delaware scientists and colleagues report that this beneficial warming may have reached its tipping point.

In a paper published today in Scientific Reports, the researchers project that approximately 30 percent of current Adélie colonies may be in decline by 2060 and approximately 60 percent may be in decline by 2099.

DOE commits more than $1.7 million to help commercialize promising Argonne-associated energy technologies

The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) announced Tuesday that it is committing more than $1.7 million in funding to help Argonne National Laboratory and research partners move multiple promising energy technologies to the marketplace.

The awards are part of the first Department-wide round of funding from DOE’s Technology Commercialization Fund (TCF), which is awarding nearly $16 million to support 54 projects at 12 national laboratories involving dozens of research partners.

The Technology Commercialization Fund is administered by DOE’s Office of Technology Transitions, which works to expand the commercial impact of DOE’s portfolio of research, development, demonstration and deployment activities. Projects that will benefit from this round of funding fall in two areas:

  • Projects for which additional technology maturation is needed to attract a private partner
  • Cooperative development projects between a lab and industry partner(s) designed to bolster the commercial application of a laboratory-developed technology

All projects selected for the Technology Commercialization Fund will receive an equal amount of non-federal funds from lab partners to match the federal investment.

“Deploying new clean energy technologies is an essential part of our nation’s effort to lead in the 21st century economy and in the fight against climate change,” said Lynn Orr, DOE’s Under Secretary for Science and Energy. “The funds announced today will help to accelerate the commercialization of cutting-edge energy technologies developed in our national labs, making them more widely available to American consumers and businesses.”

The five Argonne-associated projects are:

Application of Resin-Wafer Electrodeionization Technology in Biorefineries ($600,000; in partnership with ZeaChem, Inc., Lakewood, Colo.)

Argonne and ZeaChem will work to improve the processing of biomass-based feedstocks into biofuels and chemicals.  A team led by Argonne chemical engineer YuPo Lin and biochemical engineer Seth Snyder developed the resin wafer electrodeionization (rwedi) technology, a process for producing clean energy that is cost-effective and reduces waste and energy use.

Argonne’s patented technology allows for the efficient separation of salts and acids from aqueous streams. Typically, these separations require neutralizing agents; the Argonne process uses electricity instead.

ZeaChem is developing biorefineries to commercialize production of cellulosic biofuels and renewable chemicals by bacterial fermentation technology. In the collaboration with Argonne, ZeaChem will use rwedi in its pilot-scale facility to clean up the cellulosic sugars that are fed to the fermenter and to recover the renewable chemical products from the fermenter.

“The implications of rwedi are exciting,” Snyder said. “Commercial production of cellulosic biofuels and renewable chemicals could decrease our carbon emissions while creating U.S. manufacturing jobs.”

The goal of the project is to obtain pilot-scale process performance so that ZeaChem can evaluate whether rwedi helps the company achieve its commercial targets.

“Rwedi could have a significant impact on the efficiency of multiple steps in the biorefining process” said Tim Eggeman, CEO and President of ZeaChem. “We look forward to seeing the scale-up performance.”

Ultrathin Nanoparticle Membranes to Remove Emerging Hydrophobic Trace Organic Compounds in Water with Low Applied Pressure and Energy Consumption ($150,000; in partnership with the Metropolitan Water Reclamation District of Greater Chicago)

A recent report by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency raises grave concerns over organic contaminants in U.S. coastal waters. In particular, emerging trace organic contaminants (TrOCs) in the water supply present a tremendous challenge for water treatment because the existing technologies to remove them are not cost-effective.

The goal of the collaboration with the Metropolitan Water Reclamation District of Greater Chicago (MWRD) is to create a prototype membrane device with an engineered molecular coating capable of removing TrOCs in an efficient and cost-effective manner.

Argonne, in collaboration with the University of Chicago, has recently developed ultrathin nanoparticle-based membranes with robust mechanical properties. Compared with commercial filters, these new types of filters have the potential to operate at low applied pressure with minimum energy consumption.

“We are excited that the grant will allow us to develop a new type of nanomaterial-based filtration membrane, completely different from the traditional polymer-based systems, to solve a challenging problem in water filtration,” said Xiao-Min Lin, an Argonne nanoscientist and a lead researcher on the project.

Argonne and MWRD will also collaborate with the Illinois Sustainable Technology Center and the Prairie Research Institute — both at theUniversity of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign — to evaluate the performance of the membrane filter.

Advanced Manufacturing of Ultra-High-Density Interposers ($250,000; in partnership with the International Consortium for Advanced Manufacturing Research, Osceola County, Fla.)

The collaboration between Argonne and the International Consortium for Advanced Manufacturing Research (ICAMR) will be aimed at improving device connections in systems needed to produce the next generation of sensors.

The work will focus on silicon interposers, a critical component for electrically connecting the multiple integrated circuits needed to make sensors with many functions.

ICAMR will contribute tools and facilities to conduct the research, including work at its state-of-the-art advanced manufacturing facility set to open next spring in Osceola County, Fla.

Graphene Coating for Dry Gas Seal Applications ($579,852; in partnership with John Crane Inc., Morton Grove, Ill.)

Argonne and John Crane Inc. will jointly develop an industrial-scale process for forming superlubric coatings based on a graphene-nanodiamond solution.

The technology will be applied to the dry gas seals of gas compressors and similar equipment, thereby reducing friction in the seals and reducing the leakage of toxic and greenhouse gases through worn seals.

“Industries are always interested in path-breaking ideas coming from national labs, but they don’t necessarily have enough funds to invest to take it to the next level,” said Argonne nanoscientist Anirudha Sumant, a lead researcher on the project. “This DOE program is an excellent vehicle to bridge this gap.”

By improving the reliability of sealing systems, there is considerable opportunity to decrease emissions associated with seal failures, reduce maintenance costs and improve productivity.

“This collaboration will propel gas-sealing technology to a new platform,” said Ali Erdemir, an Argonne Distinguished Fellow and a lead researcher on the project.

“This is an important initiative by DOE to raise the Technology Readiness Level of the science that has been developed at the national laboratories,” added Mostafa Beik, a business development executive at Argonne who helps manage the collaboration with John Crane, Inc.

UNCD-Based Electron Field Emission Source for Accelerator Applications ($150,000; in partnership with Euclid TechLabs, Gaithersburg, Md.)

Many of the synchrotron facilities around the world — which operate 24/7 — have very complicated and time-consuming procedures for replacing electron sources when they fail, making a long time between failures highly desirable. It is also highly desirable that these electron sources can consume less power, work for a longer duration and withstand variation in vacuum environment without reducing performance.

In this project, Argonne and Euclid TechLabs will develop an electron source based on field emission from nitrogen-incorporated ultrananocrystalline diamond, or (N)UNCD.

“This will greatly accelerate our efforts in developing robust, energy-efficient and economically viable electron sources for electron accelerators,” Sumant said.

“A great collateral aspect of this funding and development will be the commercial availability of UNCD-based electron sources for other high-value commercial applications, including electron microscopy and space propulsion systems,” said Beik, who manages the commercialization of this technology with outside partners. “We are currently exploring with other commercial partners the use of this technology for those applications.”