Researchers from the University of Oklahoma have discovered a technique to remove pollutants from water that requires minimal labor costs and is powered by nature itself. After 15 years of testing, research has shown this passive water treatment method to be successful in as diverse geography as the flatlands of Oklahoma and the mountains of Bolivia.
The passive water treatment system is created by engineering an ecosystem consisting of a series of filtering ponds. As the water moves through each specifically designed pond, a natural chemical or biological process removes certain contaminants as it slowly moves from one cell into the other before being re-released into natural waterways.
“When the water reaches the last pond, it has gone from looking like orange, sediment-laden sludge to clear water,” said Robert Nairn, associate director for OU’s Water Technologies for Emerging Regions Center and director of the Center for Restoration of Ecosystems and Watersheds.
The ecological filtering system requires less fossil fuel input and produces less pollution than traditional energy intensive water filtration technologies.“Since it is powered by the sun, wind and gravity, it requires minimal labor cost and only needs to be checked about once every three months,” said Nairn.
“The region gets less than 17 inches of rain per year,” Nairn said. “Much of the limited water is used for irrigation of staple root crops by the local farmers, resulting in contaminated soils and crops, posing substantial health risks.”
Building upon their experience in the Tar Creek, Okla., Superfund site, the researchers are engineering an ecosystem to treat polluted water in Potosi. The difference between the Tar Creek project and Potosi project is the extreme geographical conditions. Instead of Oklahoma flatlands, the team is working in a desert at 16,000 feet, which poses new challenges.
“Massive water pollution is an issue that affects us all,” Nairn said. “If left untreated, the results are the same: unsafe living conditions and potential health risks. We learn from research in both developed and undeveloped countries to counteract this man-made threat with ecologically friendly solutions.”
This and similar research will be presented at the third International WaTER Conference Sept. 23 through 25 in Norman, Okla. Hosted by OU, the conference brings the world’s leading water experts together to discuss the latest research and efforts to solve water and sanitation challenges for developing countries. Attendees will include international water and sanitation experts from academia, industry, non-governmental organizations, government and foundations. Sanitation development activist Ada Oko-Williams will formally receive the OU International Water Prize and give the plenary lecture. For more information about Nairn and his research on mining watersheds, visit crew.ou.edu. To learn more about the International WaTER Conference, visit water.ou.edu.
Karen Kelly | Newswise
Safeguarding sustainability through forest certification mapping
27.06.2017 | International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis (IIASA)
Dune ecosystem modelling
26.06.2017 | Albert-Ludwigs-Universität Freiburg im Breisgau
An international team of scientists has proposed a new multi-disciplinary approach in which an array of new technologies will allow us to map biodiversity and the risks that wildlife is facing at the scale of whole landscapes. The findings are published in Nature Ecology and Evolution. This international research is led by the Kunming Institute of Zoology from China, University of East Anglia, University of Leicester and the Leibniz Institute for Zoo and Wildlife Research.
Using a combination of satellite and ground data, the team proposes that it is now possible to map biodiversity with an accuracy that has not been previously...
Heatwaves in the Arctic, longer periods of vegetation in Europe, severe floods in West Africa – starting in 2021, scientists want to explore the emissions of the greenhouse gas methane with the German-French satellite MERLIN. This is made possible by a new robust laser system of the Fraunhofer Institute for Laser Technology ILT in Aachen, which achieves unprecedented measurement accuracy.
Methane is primarily the result of the decomposition of organic matter. The gas has a 25 times greater warming potential than carbon dioxide, but is not as...
Hydrogen is regarded as the energy source of the future: It is produced with solar power and can be used to generate heat and electricity in fuel cells. Empa researchers have now succeeded in decoding the movement of hydrogen ions in crystals – a key step towards more efficient energy conversion in the hydrogen industry of tomorrow.
As charge carriers, electrons and ions play the leading role in electrochemical energy storage devices and converters such as batteries and fuel cells. Proton...
Scientists from the Excellence Cluster Universe at the Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität Munich have establised "Cosmowebportal", a unique data centre for cosmological simulations located at the Leibniz Supercomputing Centre (LRZ) of the Bavarian Academy of Sciences. The complete results of a series of large hydrodynamical cosmological simulations are available, with data volumes typically exceeding several hundred terabytes. Scientists worldwide can interactively explore these complex simulations via a web interface and directly access the results.
With current telescopes, scientists can observe our Universe’s galaxies and galaxy clusters and their distribution along an invisible cosmic web. From the...
Temperature measurements possible even on the smallest scale / Molecular ruby for use in material sciences, biology, and medicine
Chemists at Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz (JGU) in cooperation with researchers of the German Federal Institute for Materials Research and Testing (BAM)...
19.06.2017 | Event News
13.06.2017 | Event News
13.06.2017 | Event News
28.06.2017 | Physics and Astronomy
28.06.2017 | Physics and Astronomy
28.06.2017 | Health and Medicine