July 2012, Vol. 24, No.7


Backpack-size water purification system runs on solar energy

Water purification has reached a new level of portability. A research team from Embry–Riddle Aeronautical University (Daytona Beach, Fla.) has developed a portable water purifier powered by foldable solar panels. The purifier can be carried by backpack, according to a university news release.

The device can be used by rescue, relief, and recovery teams to convert standing, stagnant water into safe drinking water without relying on local power sources. A single person can deploy the unit in less than 30 minutes using easy-to-understand pictorial instructions, the news release says.

The system can provide clean water for up to 1500 people per day and operate entirely on solar power. As backup power, the system can run on deep-cycle batteries without sunlight, the news release says.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency named the team as one of 15 winners of the 2012 People, Prosperity, and the Planet competition. The students will receive a $90,000 grant from the agency to refine and patent the device.

Nature optimizes marshland restoration

When planting new marshland, Ohio State University (Columbus) researcher Bill Mitsch has concluded that giving control to nature makes the most sense.

After planting one marsh with wetland vegetation in 1994 and leaving another to colonize plant and animal life on its own, Mitsch found that as time passes, the initial conditions of the wetlands matter less than how they develop on their own, according to an Ohio State news release.

The two wetlands now contain nearly the same number of plant species — almost 100 more than when planted. Water from the Olentangy River has been pumped continually into both marshes at rates designed to mimic water flow in a freshwater river wetland. Mitsch calls the wetlands examples of self-design, the news release says.

The analysis, published in the March issue of the journal BioScience, suggests that wetlands could provide substantial support in the area of carbon sequestration to offset greenhouse gas emissions. The unplanted wetland emitted about twice as much methane as the planted wetland, the news release says. But the unplanted wetland also had more carbon sequestration, and this sequestration more than compensates for any methane emissions, Mitsch explained in the news release.

The research was funded by the U.S. Department of Agriculture, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, U.S. National Science Foundation, Wilma H. Schiermeier Olentangy River Wetland Research Park (Columbus, Ohio), Ohio State University School of Environment and Natural Resources and Environmental Science Graduate Program, and Ohio State’s Ohio Agricultural Research and Development Center.


© 2012 Water Environment Federation. All rights reserved.