Dried up: Texas cities in fear of running out of water

Read the full story at The Hill.

The American West is experiencing its driest period in human history, a megadrought that threatens health, agriculture and entire ways of life. DRIED UP is examining the dire effects of the drought on the states most affected — as well as the solutions Americans are embracing.

As the Western U.S. suffers under its worst drought in a millennium, the government of Texas, a state that faces its own unique set of dangers from extreme weather, is at last turning to deal with the threat that climate change poses to its long-term water supply. 

Texas’s situation is sufficiently dire that in July, a majority-Republican panel on the state legislature voted unanimously to require the state water planning board to consult with the state climatologist as it advises cities in planning to meet the state’s water needs in the future.  

The rule change “removes the possibility that the political climate could harm [local water officials’] ability to plan responsibly for the future,” state Sen. Nathan Johnson (D), a major backer of the shift, told The Hill. 

“It kind of insulates the regional water authorities from political pressures that would harm their ability to do what they need to do,” Johnson said.  

But that process won’t bear fruit for years — and Texans increasingly worry that the crisis is here now. 

New $12.5 million center at UChicago to investigate zero-emission hydrogen energy

Read the full story from the University of Chicago.

The U.S. Department of Energy has awarded researchers at the University of Chicago $12.5 million to advance work aimed at finding innovative solutions for long-lasting hydrogen energy research — potentially offering a zero-emission alternative to fossil fuels.

The Catalyst Design for Decarbonization Center, or CD4DC, will be the first center of its kind based at the University of Chicago and will be led by Laura Gagliardi, the Richard and Kathy Leventhal Professor at the Pritzker School of Molecular Engineering, the Department of Chemistry, and the James Franck Institute.

Webinar: Fate of ionizable organic compounds in soil-plant systems

Sep 29, 2022, noon CDT
Register here

Reuse of reclaimed water for agricultural irrigation is important for the sustainable management of water resources, when the presence of trace organic compounds can pose potential human health risk. We have developed a model for simulating the pH-dependent speciation and fate of ionizable organic compounds in soils and their plant uptake during the application of reclaimed wastewater to agricultural soils. The simulation showed that pH plays an important role in regulating the plant uptake of organic compounds. Such modeling results demonstrate the importance of considering pH, speciation of ionizable organic compounds, and organic matter-mineral association for simulating their fate in the soil-plant system. Our current research has been devoted to understanding the molecular-level processes for organic matter-mineral association in soil environment, with focus on identifying the unknown redox and complexation-reactive organic matter in soil and water environment using a protocol combining chromatographic separation, reactivity screening, and high resolution mass spectrometry analysis. Our efforts hopefully can shed light on uncovering the chemical nature of complex organic matter critical for the biogeochemical cycles of carbon and water reuse.


Yu (Frank) Yang is an Associate Professor in the Dept. of Civil & Environmental Engineering at University of Nevada, Reno. He is currently on sabbatical in the Department of Geosciences at University of Tuebingen (Germany) working with Professor Andreas Kappler. His research expertise & interests have been focused on the environmental chemistry of organic carbon & emerging contaminants in natural & engineering systems, with implications on carbon cycle, climate change, & water reuse. Funded by NSF, DOE, USDA, & industrial partners, his research has led to over 80 peer-reviewed journal publications & 1 book (John Wiley & Sons Publisher). He has served as Associate Editor or equivalent roles for 7 journals & has been recognized by Alexander von Humboldt Research Fellowship, US National Academy of Engineering/EU-US Frontiers of Engineering Selected Attendee, Nevada System of Higher Education Regents’ Rising Researcher Award, RSC Emerging Investigators (twice), EST Best Reviewer & others.

Dumpster diver: How I find rare-earth metals in industrial landfill

Read the full story in Nature.

PhD student Gianluca Torta contributes to green recycling by extracting rare-earth metals from industrial landfill for reuse in electric motors.

This pastel clothing is dyed with old scraps of fabric

Read the full story at Fast Company.

The light blue color in a new hoodie didn’t come from conventional dye: Instead, the sustainability-focused clothing brand Pangaia worked with a partner to create dye from scraps of blue fabric collected from its factory floor. A rainbow of other colors in the new product line, from light pink and apricot to yellow and green, also came from transformed textile waste.

The brand’s partner, Italian textile chemical company Officina+39, turns scraps and old clothing that would otherwise be thrown out into colored powder. Using a patented process, the recycled powder becomes a dye that can be sprayed, coated, printed, or dipped onto new fabric.

From eBay to apps: How reselling has become more efficient with technology

Read the full story at Waste360.

In 1995, eBay was founded and was an overnight success. Since then, numerous other reselling websites have sprung up which has resulted in a vast digital marketplace for those looking to get into the business. While the idea of selling used items has been around for centuries, it is the prominence of these digital reselling platforms that are allowing this waste-reducing tradition to permeate the 21st century during the age of online commerce.

Emerging plastics recycling technologies: Where are they headed?

Waste360 recently did a two-part series on emerging plastic recycling technologies. Part 1 reviews the findings of a recent report funded by Dow Chemical entitled Rethinking Plastics in a Circular Economy. Part 2 looks at where the technologies are headed.

In Nebraska, bighorn sheep reclaim their former high plains home

Read the full story at e360.

In “High Plains Wild” — the Third Runner-Up in the 2022 Yale Environment 360 Film Contest — filmmaker Mariah Lundgren tells the story of efforts by wildlife biologists, conservationists, and landowners to reintroduce and sustain the magnificent bighorn sheep in Nebraska.

Algorithm formulated to assess environmental risk of personal care products

Read the full story at Cosmetics & Toiletries.

A recent article published in Toxicological Research examines the potential impact of shampoo, conditioner, facial cleansers, etc., on the environment after they are used and the remaining chemicals spiral down the drain. This work responds to concerns by regulators and consumer groups, among others, over the potential for such rinse-off personal care products to be detrimental to ecosystems, most predominantly aquatic life.

Delectable but destructive: Tracing chocolate’s environmental life cycle

Read the full story at Monga Bay.

Chocolate is a treat beloved across the world. But how much do we know about our favorite guilty pleasure’s environmental impacts?

A recent study, published in the journal Science Advances, sheds light on key ingredients that make their way into many chocolate products — often untraced, and possibly linked to deforestation in Latin America, Africa and Asia.

The study found that high volumes of cocoa, palm oil and soy — key ingredients used in bulk to make some of our chocolate favorites — are currently traded with little to no traceability via indirect supply chains.