It's not just Amazon and Apple that expect massive taxpayer subsidies in exchange for locating physical plant in your town: when Google builds a new data-center, it does so on condition of multimillion-dollar "incentives" from local governments -- but Google also demands extraordinary secrecy from local officials regarding these deals, secrecy so complete that city attorneys have instructed town councillors to refuse to answer questions about it during public meetings.
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Apparently, this story popped up back in 2015, but it's so cool that it's still worth reading about now: the city of Portland, Oregon has water pipes buried underneath of it that not only carry clean drinking water to the locals, but also generate hydroelectric power at the same time!
From Fast Company:
In Portland, one of the city's main pipelines now uses Lucid's pipes to make power that's sent into the grid. Though the system can't generate enough energy for an entire city, the pipes can power individual buildings like a school or library, or help offset a city's total energy bill. Unlike wind or solar power, the system can generate electricity at any time of day, regardless of weather, since the pipes always have water flowing through them.
The pipes can't generate power in every location; they only work in places where water is naturally flowing downward with gravity (if water is being pumped, the system would waste energy). But they have another feature that can be used anywhere: The pipes have sensors that can monitor water, something that utilities couldn't do in the past.
Providing power to partially operate water treatment and pump facilities during the day and then juice up streetlights at night: what's not to love about that? Read the rest
Collecting water from the air is nothing new. Fog nets—typically constructed using a sheet of plastic mesh hung between a pair of poles—are often used in arid areas to capture water vapor. The vapor condenses into a liquid on the mesh and is then drawn down into a collection receptacle. Boom: drinkable water. That said, the amount of drinkable water that a fog net can yield doesn’t amount to much and, as its name suggests, if it’s not a foggy day, there’s not likely to be much, if any, water collected at all.
Happily, for people living in areas that are dryer than a popcorn fart, a team from the University of Akron have devised a way to spin nanoscale fibers that will provide a huge upgrade over the conventional fog nets in use today.
From New Scientist:
They used electrospun polymers – a technique which allowed them to create nanoscale fibres. These are tangled around fragments of expanded graphite, like spaghetti around meatballs. The fibers provide a large surface area for droplets to condense onto, and the graphite encourages the water to drip out of the material when it is squeezed or heated.
According to the team’s leader, Shing-Chung Josh Wong, fog nets made using these new nanoscale fibres could harvest as much as 180 liters of water per square meter of material deployed, every day. Fog nets made using plastic and other conventional materials? They’re lucky to snag 30 liters of water during the same amount of time with the same square footage of material deployed. Read the rest
PolyGlu is used by aid workers to force impurities in water to settle at the bottom of a container, making the water safer for drinking in areas where water is scarce or polluted. Read the rest
Some World Cup fans who picked up AquaStar's commemorative water jugs found out the hard way that leaving them in the sun is not a good idea, as they make fire-starting magnifiers. Read the rest
Southern California is almost totally dependent on Sierra snowpack and the Colorado River for its water, and both sources are endangered by climate change, even as SoCal's cycle of long droughts and catastrophic, torrential rains gets more extreme thanks to climate change.
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Water & Light contains astonishing images of waves. Last year, Armand Dijcks turned some of Ray Collins' shots into cinemagraphs. The two collaborated again in Elemental, a languid meditation on the power and beauty of water. Read the rest
Swimming pigs, splashing horses, and diving bulls await in this lovely roundup of animals swimming, some of whom are a bit surprising to see taking to water so eagerly. Read the rest
The way this man casually hops on to a moving freighter in Hailuoto, Finland as it tears through ice and sub-zero waters should make anyone who sees this video feel a whole lot better about their morning commute. Read the rest
Scientists have been experimenting with "fog harps" in arid climates as an easy way to collect potable water from fog.
Via the paper:
Fog harvesting is a useful technique for obtaining fresh water in arid climates. The wire meshes currently utilized for fog harvesting suffer from dual constraints: coarse meshes cannot efficiently capture microscopic fog droplets, whereas fine meshes suffer from clogging issues. Here, we design and fabricate fog harvesters comprising an array of vertical wires, which we call “fog harps”. Under controlled laboratory conditions, the fog-harvesting rates for fog harps with three different wire diameters were compared to conventional meshes of equivalent dimensions. As expected for the mesh structures, the mid-sized wires exhibited the largest fog collection rate, with a drop-off in performance for the fine or coarse meshes. In contrast, the fog-harvesting rate continually increased with decreasing wire diameter for the fog harps due to efficient droplet shedding that prevented clogging. This resulted in a 3-fold enhancement in the fog-harvesting rate for the harp design compared to an equivalent mesh.
• Harvesting water from fog with harps (YouTube / American Chemical Society) Read the rest
At the Nuremberg Castle in Bavaria, Germany, there is a 50 meter (165 foot) well. The delay between when water is poured into it and its splash at the bottom delivers a surprising thrill of anticipation. (via r/videos)
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Freediver Jake Koehler, better known as DALLMYD, ignored posted alligator warnings to explore what looked like a garden variety Florida swamp. Below the duckweed covering the surface, he found a crystal-clear freshwater spring. Read the rest
Waters along the Ohio River are at record levels, reports USA Today. Read the rest
The fine folks at Waterjet Channel found an enhydro agate, a type of metamorphic rock that formed with a pocket of liquid water inside. Naturally, they broke it open to get to the water and drank it. Read the rest
"My company signed up for a $1000/year subscription-based water cooler. It was just so sketchy that I had to make a review," writes Redditor kibitzor on his office's ION Bottleless Water Cooler.
The video that follows is an amusing takedown of the machine as he tries to dispense a simple glass of "mildly carbonated" water from it.
Let your water system boot. Booting is fun to watch.
Previously: $1000 smart teapot discontinued and RIP Juicero, the machine that squeezed juice from packets of juice Read the rest
UNESCO is about as good as it gets in the world of UN Specialized Agencies, responsible for designating and protecting world heritage sites, running literacy for the poorest people on Earth, supporting potable water programs, protecting fragile and endangered ecosystems, running disaster preparedness plans for all to use, protecting indigenous knowledge, protecting the free press, and digitizing the world's libraries. Read the rest