Let's talk about water

Whetting appetites for Bath's water research

Posts By: Sarah Eliot

A medium term 'crisis' in water? Might Brexit be the answer?

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📥  WIRC @ Bath

This May sees the next talk in the monthly 'Water Colloquium' series organised by WIRC @ Bath exploring the breadth of water research being undertaken at the University of Bath and beyond.

Title: A medium term 'crisis' in water? Might Brexit be the answer?

Speaker: Dr Martin HurstMartin Hurst photo

When: Thursday 4th May 2017 at 1.15pm

Where: Room 3.6, Chancellors' Building, University of Bath (Location and maps)

Abstract: The water industry has enjoyed 15 years of static prices, while profits have been maintained and by and large improvements in service have continued.

But this may be coming to an end. A recent peer reviewed study by Atkins and others for Water UK showed that the likelihood of future droughts was markedly greater than had previously thought. There has been systematically underinvestment in asset maintenance. Catchments are under increasing ecological pressure. Population growth, new development and climate change are ever present. And the financial backdrop to the last 15 years’ price falls is coming to an end.

If this combination of factors is not to lead to a perfect storm of rising bills, falling service and increasing ecological damage we need a paradigm shift. Whatever the pros and cons of Brexit more widely, an ability to think afresh about environmental legislation – moving from process to outcome based regulation - coupled with the need to rethink agricultural support may provide an important opportunity for water.

The resultant new approach to catchment management could involve a genuine partnership between land managers, water companies and flood defence agencies with benefits for water availability, environmental quality and flood defences. All with potentially reduced water bills.

There seem to be two ways of achieving this: evolutionary change, or a move to a ‘system operator/natural capital trading’ approach. Neither are without their risks. Both require a degree of cross sectoral and multiple benefits thinking which has not proved easy to achieve in the UK to date.

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The effects of oxygen availability and turbulence on water quality in lakes and reservoirs

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📥  Water, Environment and Infrastructure Resilience, WIRC @ Bath

This March sees the next talk in the monthly 'Water Colloquium' series organised by WIRC @ Bath exploring the breadth of water research being undertaken at the University of Bath.

Title: The effects of oxygen availability and turbulence on water quality in lakes and reservoirs

Speaker: Dr Lee Bryant

bryant-lee

When: 16 March2017 at 1.15pm

Where:  CB 4.8,University of Bath (Location and maps)

Abstract: Oxygen and mixing conditions in aquatic systems have a significant influence on the biogeochemical cycling of nutrients, metals, and other species at the sediment-water interface; these fluxes often control water quality in lakes and reservoirs. In an effort to counter problems with decreased water quality stemming from anoxic conditions, engineered techniques such as hypolimnetic oxygenation systems are being used more and more prevalently to increase aquatic oxygen concentrations and reduce concentrations of deleterious soluble species. Decreased oxygen levels in oceans are also becoming increasingly problematic due to enhanced anthropogenic effects and global warming. In both freshwater and marine systems, fluxes of oxygen, nutrients, and other chemical species are known to be strongly controlled not only by concentration but also by turbulence such as internal waves; however, hydrodynamics can be highly variable and effects on biogeochemical cycling and corresponding water quality are not currently understood. Based on in-situ microprofiler and aquatic eddy correlation measurements, results will be presented from three process studies focusing on (1) the effects of internal waves (e.g., seiches), (2) bioturbation, and (3) engineered hypolimnetic oxygenation / aeration on sediment-water fluxes of oxygen and manganese in lakes and reservoirs. These studies will be used to highlight the physical and chemical processes controlling biogeochemical cycling and related water quality in aquatic systems.

Contact: Please email Shan Bradley-Cong if you need any further information.

 

Water Quality Monitoring and Electricity from Wastewaters with Microbial Fuel Cells

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📥  WIRC @ Bath

This May sees the next talk in the monthly 'Water Colloquium' series organised by WIRC @ Bath exploring the breadth of water research being undertaken at the University of Bath.

Title: Water Quality Monitoring and Electricity from Wastewaters with Microbial Fuel Cells

Speaker: Dr Mirella Di Lorenzo

mirella-di-lorenzo3

When: Tuesday 10th May 2016 at 5.15pm

Where: Room 3.7, Building 3 West, University of Bath (Location and maps)

Abstract: Microbial fuel cells (MFCs) are devices that, by taking advances of metabolic pathways in microorganisms, directly convert the chemical energy of organic compounds into electricity. In recent years, MFCs have raised great attention as sustainable and clean energy-conversion technology capable of utilising a wide range of organic fuels, including wastewater from industrial, agricultural and domestic sources.

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Reactor development for water treatment

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📥  Water Treatment, WIRC @ Bath

This April sees the next talk in the monthly 'Water Colloquium' series organised by WIRC @ Bath exploring the breadth of water research being undertaken at the University of Bath.

Title: Reactor development for water treatment: From macro to micro scale using bacterial cells, photocatalysis and enzymes

Speaker: Dr Emma Emanuelsson

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When: Thursday 28th April 2016 at 1.15pm

Where: Room 4.10, Chancellors' Building, University of Bath (Location and maps)

Abstract: Many industries generate wastewaters that are not suitable for conventional biological wastewater treatment. This could be due to the presence of ‘hard to degrade’ compounds such as pesticides, chlorinated and volatile organic compounds or high concentration of detergents or fats. Other contaminants, such as salts, acids, alkali and metals, may also be toxic to the microorganisms and thus jeopardise the treatment. These wastewaters must therefore be treated before they can be sent to a wastewater treatment plant. The interesting challenge is that there is no ‘standardised approach’, instead a variety of strategies are required to deal with these various contaminants.

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The Photochemistry of Rivers, Lakes and Engineered Low-Energy Treatment Systems

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📥  Other, Water Treatment, WIRC @ Bath

This April sees the next talk in the monthly 'Water Colloquium' series organised by WIRC @ Bath exploring the breadth of water research being undertaken at the University of Bath.

Title: The Photochemistry of Rivers, Lakes and Engineered Low-Energy Treatment Systems

Speaker: Dr Jannis Wenk

jannis-wenk

When: Tuesday 12th April 2016 at 5.15pm

Where: Room 3.15, Chancellors' Building, University of Bath (Location and maps)

Abstract: The importance of photochemical processes on the fate of aquatic contaminants is widely underestimated. This lecture summarizes highlights of my own studies and discusses them in relation to recent important advancements in the field of environmental photochemistry, with emphasis on reaction mechanisms, monitoring and modelling of photochemical processes in water bodies. Systematic use of natural sunlight for improving water quality in constructed open water systems such as wetlands and stormwater reservoirs will be considered. The presentation is especially addressed to an audience that is unfamiliar with this area of research as I will provide an introduction to the photophysical and photochemical processes that generate a wide range of short-lived reactive species in the upper layer of sunlit surface waters. Along the way I will also explain what the colour of water is.

Contact: Please email Shan Bradley-Cong if you need any further information.

 

Heat recovery from sewer systems

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📥  WIRC @ Bath

This March sees the next talk in the monthly 'Water Colloquium' series organised by WIRC @ Bath exploring the breadth of water research being undertaken at the University of Bath.

Title: Heat recovery from sewer systems

Speaker: Professor Jan Hofman

Prof Jan Hofman

When: Thursday 17th March 2016 at 1.15pm

Where: Room 4.10, Chancellors' Building, University of Bath (Location and maps)

Abstract: Do you ever think about how much energy you are washing away when taking a shower? Or how much heat is lost from your house with the wastewater? In a modern house this can be up to 40 % of the total energy use for room heating and production of hot tap water. Recovering and re-using that heat can significantly increase the energy efficiency and reduce the carbon footprint of a house. In Switzerland, Germany and Scandinavia, systems are in operation that can recover thermal energy from wastewater. Research in The Netherlands and recently at the University of Bath campus gives insight into the availability of thermal energy in the sewer system. The heat availability follows the patterns of water consumption at home. Most of the heat is available during two large peaks every day. The largest is the morning peak. At that time many people take a shower after waking up. The second peak is during the afternoon and evening, when people come back home from work.

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Assessing the element of surprise of record-breaking flood events

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📥  Water, Environment and Infrastructure Resilience, WIRC @ Bath

This March sees the next talk in the monthly 'Water Colloquium' series organised by WIRC @ Bath exploring the breadth of water research being undertaken at the University of Bath.

Title: Assessing the element of surprise of record-breaking flood events

Speaker: Dr Thomas Kjeldsen

kjeldsen-thomas

When: Tuesday 8th March 2016 at 5.15pm

Where: Room 3.15, Chancellors' Building, University of Bath (Location and maps)

Abstract: The occurrence of record-breaking flood events continuous to cause damage and disruption despite significant investments in flood defences, suggesting that these events are in some sense surprising.  This study develops a new statistical test to help assess if a flood event can be considered surprising or not.  The test statistic is derived from annual maximum series (AMS) of extreme events, and Monte Carlo simulations were used to derive critical values for a range of significance levels based on a Generalized Logistic distribution.  The method is tested on a national dataset of past events from the United Kingdom, and is found to correctly identify recent large event that have been identified elsewhere as causing a significant change in UK flood management policy.  No temporal trend in the frequency or magnitude of surprising events was identified, and no link could be established between the occurrences of surprising events and large-scale drivers.

Contact: Please email Sarah Eliot if you need any further information.

 

Water in the Circular Economy

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📥  WIRC @ Bath

The following blog post was contributed by Dr Ana Lanham, a Lecturer in Water Science and Engineering in the Department of Chemical Engineering.


“Water is the natural starting point for the circular economy” said Esther de Lange (MEP) while introducing the panel of speakers for a meeting on water in the context of the recently adopted Circular Economy Package. The meeting took place on the 27th of January 2016 at the European Parliament (EP) in Brussels and Dr Ana Lanham, a lecturer from the Department of Chemical Engineering at the University of Bath and member of WIRC @ Bath, was able to attend.

The panel, in addition to Ms de Lange, who chairs the EP’s group on water, included four speakers that represented viewpoints from across different sectors relevant to water: Marianne Wenning, Director for 'Quality of Life, Water & Air' in DG Environment, presenting the strategy from the European Commission, Diane d’Arras, VP Water Europe SUEZ Environment, with a view from Water Utilities, Christina Von Westernhagen, Director EU Government Affairs and Public Policy Dow Chemical, representing the industry and Jan Busstra, Water and Marine Director of Dutch Ministry for Infrastructure & Environment, representing the experience of a National Government.

All speakers emphasised the importance of water as a crucial resource for all sectors of society and insisted that while we are already facing problems in terms of water scarcity and quality,  where 11% of the EU territory is water stressed, that this would  likely increase significantly as a result of the accrued impacts of Climate Change. For this reason, the “buzz” for the Circular Economy is very welcome as it sets the tone and lays the necessary framework for the promotion of creating value in closed loops.

However, many speakers and members of the audience also recognised that this package is only a first step in that direction and that there are many challenges that both companies, policy-makers and citizens need to overcome. For instance, the need to balance strategies such as artificial aquifer recharge with the risk of further spread of emerging pollutants, the need to enable resource recovery from wastewater through appropriate legislation without compromising health and safety aspects and finally the need to discuss models for water pricing and costing without compromising access to clean and safe water and without hindering economic growth or industrial activities.

This package addresses some of these issues, such as for instance the revision and unification of legislation on fertilisers, or the incentive to water reuse by recognising the crucial need for standards that define sufficient quality parameters to ensure a safe repurposing of the water. However, more importantly, the overall impression I felt in the room was that it also serves as an encouragement, a leadership vision that enables industries, citizens, governments to talk to each other and aspire to (re)invent value in recycling, repurposing, reducing, recovering, reusing and (re)designing.

 

Going down the drain - Engineered nanoparticles and the water cycle

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📥  WIRC @ Bath

This February see the next talk in the monthly 'Water Colloquium' series organised by WIRC @ Bath exploring the breadth of water research being undertaken at the University of Bath.

Title: Going down the drain - Engineered nanoparticles and the water cycle

Speaker: Dr Patrick Bauerlein

Bauerlein_Patrick_IMG_9417

When: Thursday 25th February 2016 at 1.15pm

Where: Room 4.10, Chancellors' Building, University of Bath (Location and maps)

Abstract: Engineered nanomaterials (ENMs) can be found in many different consumer products, industrial and agricultural processes. The production of these ENMs is still rising substantially and for the moment this will not change. The most common nanoparticles are fullerenes, carbon nanotubes, metal oxides and metals. Organic nanoparticles, such as the fullerenes are common constituents in cosmetics, while functionalised fullerenes are good semiconductors in organic solar cells. Ag nanoparticles are applied frequently in healthcare products and textiles. Au is an integral part of electronic equipment and is employed as a catalyst. Probably the most common nanoparticle in daily life is TiO2. It is used in consumer products such as sunscreens, cosmetics, toothpaste, paintings and certain food products (chewing gum). ENMs are often used thoughtlessly and in abundance with the consequence that these particles can filter into the environment. For this reason, it is important to be able to detect them and understand their behaviour in the environment. In recent years a lot of effort has been put into development of these methods. This has made it possible to shed light on their behaviour and whereabouts they are in the environment.

In this presentation Patrick will show you why nanoparticles are used in our daily life, what we have to do to be able to measure them and their potential use in water treatment.

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Understanding the impact of social norms on private behaviours: Examining on-campus shower use

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📥  WIRC @ Bath

This February see the next talk in the monthly 'Water Colloquium' series organised by WIRC @ Bath exploring the breadth of water research being undertaken at the University of Bath.

Title: Understanding the impact of social norms on private behaviours: Examining on-campus shower use

Speaker: Elaine Gallagher

When: Tuesday 9th February 2016 at 5.15pm

Where: Room 3.15, Chancellors' Building, University of Bath (Location and maps)

Abstract: In line with the targets of the 2008 Climate Change Act, the University of Bath is committed to greatly reducing the carbon footprint of the University to sustainable levels. The overuse of water is one carbon intensive activity which must be addressed due to the excessive amounts which are consumed on campus on a daily basis. This research focused on shower related water use as this is a behaviour which can vary dramatically from person to person. Having first collected data to establish the length of time spent in the shower, a social norms intervention was then applied, as social norms interventions have been shown to be a robust behaviour change mechanism. This involved providing students with information about how their shower time compared with the average time of the other participants, with an expectation that students would alter their shower duration in line with the average, or social norm. As social norms are generally effective for public behaviours, it is uncertain as to their effectiveness in changing private behaviours such as showering. This exploratory study aimed to uncover the utility of a social norms intervention in altering students showering times.

Contact: Please email Sarah Eliot if you need any further information.