Let's talk about water

Whetting appetites for Bath's water research

Tagged: Algae

Acoustic Imaging of Algae: From the Arctic to a reservoir near you

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📥  Water Active, WIRC @ Bath

Research by Dr Philippe Blondel, Senior Lecturer in the Department of Physics is featured in Water Active this month. The article describes why looking at algae and using sonar helps to study how underwater vegetation adapts to climate change, as the glaciers melt and bring fresh water and sediments into fragile ecosystems.

Water Active is the UK's leading water industry monthly magazine and has the highest number of readers in the water industry. This article continues the monthly series of features by researchers in the Water Innovation and Research Centre at the University of Bath (WIRC @ Bath).

Read the full article written by Dr Philippe Blondel on page 10 in the December issue of Water Active.


Blue water, green algae and dark threats - Acoustics outside the laboratory?

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📥  WIRC @ Bath

This November 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: Blue water, green algae and dark threats - Acoustics outside the laboratory?

Speaker: Dr Philippe Blondel

When: Tuesday 17th November at 5.15pm

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

Abstract: Clean water is what we all want, from freshwater reservoirs to pipes, rivers and coastal ecosystems. But this can be threatened by algae. They can block pipes and reservoir inlets, affect natural water filtering, and even harm aquatic life through eutrophication. Algae large enough to see with the naked eye (macrophytes) can have positive sides, though, and they are increasingly used in the chemical, pharmaceutical and food industry. Kelps are the largest marine crop, with over 4 million tonnes harvested annually. As a source of ecosystem services and natural capital, macrophytes accounts for at least 11.4% of the worldwide value of all ecosystems. But algae are difficult to monitor regularly and accurately: they can be hidden from direct view (e.g. deep in large reservoirs or in water intake pipes), they can be few enough that they are not noticed in time (e.g. until warm weather or eutrophication) or they can be small enough that they are not easily detected (e.g. cyanobacteria). This is where acoustics can help, and this talk will present acoustic imaging in general, focusing on detecting and mapping algae in the field. Applications will be drawn from our own research and include kelp beds in British Columbia, and how they can be used by humans and grey whales, and algae in the Arctic, and how they evolve with glaciers melting and the dark threat of climate change.

Refreshments: Will be available in Room 3.11, Chancellors' Building from 4.45pm.

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


How Bath research could reduce water scarcity in Middle East

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📥  Other

A Jordanian PhD student has come to Bath to investigate how our algae research could help clean wastewater in her country.


As one of the most water-poor countries in the world, Jordan’s current water resources fall significantly below the global water scarcity line. Annual rainfall falls under 50mm in 95% of the country, nearly all the country’s groundwater sources are being seriously overexploited and experts are warning that Jordan could soon face absolute water poverty.

Their geographic location also means that refugee flow, reported in 2014 to be over 600,000, from Syria, Iraq and Palestine puts even more pressure on the chronically scarce resources.

New ways of cutting down water wastage and overuse are in desperate demand and high on the Jordanian government’s agenda. Micro-algae is a diverse group of species with many potential applications including cleaning and improving the quality of wastewater - an application which, at the moment, remains an uncharted possibility in Jordan. This is what has brought Mais Sweiss to Bath.

“There is no one at my university in Jordan who does algae research and only a handful of people in the whole of Jordan doing research in this field”, Mais says.

Read the full article.




Researchers to use algae to clean up mine water

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📥  Waste water collection and treatment

We can announce today that our researchers are part of a ground breaking GW4 research project that aims to clean up water from a Cornish tin mine, using algae to harvest the precious heavy metals and produce biofuel at the same time.

mine-waterGW4 is the South West Research Alliance that brings together the South West and Wales’ four leading, research-intensive universities: Bath, Bristol, Cardiff and Exeter.

Researchers from all four universities, in collaboration with Plymouth Marine Laboratory (PML) are now working with the Coal Authority and Veolia to take untreated mine water samples from Wheal Jane tin mine in Cornwall into the laboratory and grow algae in them. The research will explore whether algae is effective in removing materials such as arsenic and cadmium from the mine water.

Researchers will then look to convert the algae into a solid from which it’s expected that precious heavy metals can be extracted and recycled for use in the electronics industry. The remaining solid waste will then be used to make biofuels.

You can read more about this project here: http://www.bath.ac.uk/research/news/2014/12/05/mine-water-clean-up/