Let's talk about water

Whetting appetites for Bath's water research

Tagged: Mirella Di Lorenzo

Improving the drinking water situation in Mexico

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📥  Water supply from source to tap

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

From Friday September 1st to Thursday September 7th 2017 a delegation from WIRC @ Bath consisting of Dr Mirella Di Lorenzo, Dr Jannis Wenk and research assistant Claire Edward-Collins travelled to Mexico to explore the situation of drinking water supply in informal settlements in the peripheral region of Mexico City.

The trip was a central component of MAPwater, a 10-month research project funded by the Royal Academy of Engineering (RAEng), led by Dr Di Lorenzo. During the 6-day stay of the team, meetings were held with local NGOs to gain a better understanding of their activities in the area of water safety and security for supply of underprivileged communities in rural and semi-urban Mexico, as well as to develop further research and education approaches. Together with the NGO Fomento Mexicano, the team visited the rural settlement of Llano Grand in the wider vicinity of Mexico City. The settlement was chosen as a case study area because of the existing issues with water supply and the close contacts of Fomento Mexicano with the community.



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


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.



Water sensor work shorlisted for two Global IChem Awards

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📥  Other

Awards MAIN logo_EventP+Sponsor

Dr Mirella Di Lorenzo in the Department of Chemical Engineering has been shortlisted for two IChemE Global Awards for her work on water sensors. Her entry '3D printed microbial water sensor' has been shortlisted for both the Water Management and Supply Award and the Dhirubhai Ambani Award for Outstanding Chemical Engineering Innovation for Resource-Poor People. The IChemE Global Awards celebrate excellence, innovation and achievement in the chemical, process and biochemical industries. The awards will be presented at the IChemE Global Awards Dinner at The Birmingham Hilton Metropole on Thursday 5th November 2015.

The other entries that have been shortlisted in the same categories are:

Water Management and Supply Award

  • ‘Marine ballast water treatment system’, Coldharbour Marine, UK
  • ‘Googong water recycling plant’, MWH Global; Googong Township Proprietary Ltd; Mirvac; Canberra Investment Corporation, Australia
  • ‘Separating oil from water’, Ohio State University, USA
  • ‘Membrane for heavy metal treatment’, National University of Singapore, Singapore
  • ‘Low temperature ZLD evaporator crystallizer’, Saltworks Technologies Inc, Canada
  • ‘Watergy program’, Saudi Arabian Oil Company, Saudi Arabia
  • ‘Shrink-fit sewage treatment in Heritage Dock’, United Utlities; GCA, UK
  • ‘Xeros polymer bead cleaning system’, Xeros Technology Group plc, UK

The Dhirubhai Ambani Award for Outstanding Chemical Engineering Innovation for the Resource-Poor People sponsored by Reliance Industries

  • ‘Conversion of biomass into cellulose ethanol (cooking fuel)’, Green Energy Biofuels (GEB), Nigeria
  • ‘Low cost technology for dialysis membranes’, Indian Institute of Technology Kharagpur, India
  • ‘Production of biodiesel from waste cooking oil’, London South Bank University, UK
  • ‘Low-cost sustainable water filter’, Nelson Mandela African Institution of Science and Technology, Tanzania
  • ‘Multifunctional concentrated solar adsorption for food preservation’, Newcastle University, UK

More information can be found via the official news release in the IChemE Media Centre.


Water research inspires composers

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📥  Other

This month sees the premiere of two new pieces, created through collaboration between scientists at the Universities of Bath and Bristol, and composers from the South West. These compositions were brought about by a new project, lab notes, which convenes science and music collaborative partnerships, bringing together research scientists and composers to develop new creative work.


On May 31st, experimental group Set Ensemble will perform the new compositions in the atmospheric surroundings of the old crypt at St George’s in Bristol. James Saunders (Bath Spa University) has been working with chemical engineers Mirella Di Lorenzo and Jon Chouler from University of Bath to explore the processes found in microbial fuel cells, devices that generate electricity from any sort of domestic, industrial or agricultural wastewater through the action of ‘electrical’ bacteria. James’s piece, titled different water environments, models this process of electricity generation through the players’ response to the sonic characteristics of waste audio, balancing their sound production against changes in quality of a shortwave radio signal

Dominic Lash has collaborated with biogeochemist Kate Hendry from University of Bristol to make a piece that engages with palaeoclimate methodology, which uses indirect chemical records to understand the links between past oceans and climate. Dominic's piece explores the idea of indirect interpretation of data by having the musicians attempt to duplicate each other's activity in various ways, “sampling” each other through various “filters”. But any musical “output” might serve as “input” for another player, and so the plot thickens...

The event will include performances of both pieces, prefaced by a short talk by each of the scientists. Doors open at 5.30pm for a 6pm start, tickets are £3 on the door.  The evening is sponsored by the South West Crucible.

More information about the musical collaboration on microbial fuel cells.


Safeguarding the UK’s Water, Energy and Food Resources

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📥  Sensors and data

EPSRC is investing £4.5 million to safeguard the UK’s water, energy and food security. With the world’s population due to grow to eight billion by 2030, humanity is facing a crisis with predictions of increasing demand and shortages of water, energy and food.

mirella-di-lorenzo3Water and energy are needed to produce food; water is required to produce energy and with the advent of biofuels, energy and food are increasingly competing for land. This means that any shortage or disruption of one resource will impact on the other two. This unbreakable link between all the resources is known as the water-energy-food nexus. Mirella Di Lorenzo from the Department of Chemical Engineering, together with other 25 academics, was selected to participate in January 2015 in a sandpit organised by EPSRC on this topic. She was the only academic representing the University of Bath in this sandpit and the project she was involved in, Vaccinating the Nexus, was awarded £1.6 million (Grant EP/N005961/1).

This research, led by Dr Paul Kemp, University of Southampton, will be conducted by an inter-disciplinary groups of scientists based at 8 universities in the UK.

This project will focus on improving the resilience of water, energy and food systems. It will investigate how nexus ‘shocks’, such as extreme climatic events that cause flooding or drought, energy shortages,  or unsustainable infrastructure development, may help inform the development of more environmentally sustainable and secure systems.

The project will use information collected during the recent flooding on the Somerset Levels to model the potential for alternative flood resistant agricultural systems, including those used to produce bioenergy crops. Further, planning decision support tools will be developed to help develop an environmentally sensitive approach to deliver the UK energy and water infrastructure plan.  Although the project will focus on UK case studies it will have international relevance and help develop expertise and capability of global value.

Dr Pal Kemp, said: “To ensure future security of supply we need to develop innovative approaches to environmentally sustainable resource management.  This can only be achieved by adopting creative interdisciplinary approaches to develop solutions to the complex challenges faced."

Dr Mirella Di Lorenzo said "We have a range of different backgrounds on board varying from engineering to crop science, maths and social science. This a unique opportunity for me to be involved in such an exciting multidisciplinary project. In Bath we will work on the development of on-site sensors for the online monitoring of microbial activity in soils and nutrient depletion/ pollutant release from soils to water systems due to extreme climate changes such as floodings or droughts".

Professor Philip Nelson, Chief Executive of EPSRC said, “This is one of the most important challenges facing the human race, and one of the most complex. The uniqueness of these projects comes from studying all three problems together, something that hasn’t been done before.

"This project is a great opportunity for scientists with expertise in different disciplines to come together to find solutions".