WaterWorld Weekly Newscast - June 24, 2019

Angela Godwin rounds up water and wastewater news headlines for the week of June 24.

The following is a transcript of the WaterWorld Weekly Newscast for the week of June 24, 2019.

Hi, I'm Angela Godwin for WaterWorld magazine, bringing you water and wastewater news headlines for the week of June 24. Coming up...

  • Fallout continues in wake of Baltimore ransomware attack
  • 'Hot spots' increase efficiency of solar desalination
  • Water purification inspired by a rose
  • West Virginia University researchers aim to reduce power plants' water usage

As Baltimore continues to recover from a ransomware attack in early May, county officials are warning approximately 14,000 residents to carefully review the sewer charges in their 2019 property tax bills.

The Robbinhood malware that crippled Baltimore City computer systems has impacted the county's ability to validate the sewer charges for a small percentage of customers.

In addition, Baltimore City has been unable to issue water bills since the attack on May 7.

As a result of the attack, Baltimore City and County plan to review the business processes that govern the water delivery system that serves both jurisdictions.

Rice University researchers have found a way to dramatically boost the efficiency of their solar-powered desalination system by concentrating sunlight into "hot spots."

Unlike conventional membrane distillation, which leverages the temperature difference across the membrane, their system uses light-absorbing nanoparticles to turn the membrane itself into a solar-driven heating element.

And now, by adding inexpensive plastic lenses to concentrate sunlight into tiny spots, the researchers are able to generate a linear increase in heat with a nonlinear increase in vapor pressure that forces more purified steam through the membrane in less time.

They estimate that the technique yields a more than 50% increase in efficiency.

The University of Texas at Austin has developed a new device for collecting and purifying water that was inspired by a rose.

The solar-steaming system is made from layered, black paper sheets coated with a special type of polymer with photothermal properties.

The paper is shaped into petals attached to a stem-like tube that collects untreated water from any water source.

The 3D rose shape makes it easier for the structure to collect and retain more liquid.

When the water makes its way to the petals, it's turned into steam, condensing it and separating impurities.

Each flower-like structure can produce more than half a gallon of water per hour per square meter -- and costs less than 2 cents.

Power generation is a thirsty business, accounting for an estimated 41 percent of all water withdrawals across the U.S.

Researchers from West Virginia University are trying to change that in a cost-effective and environmentally friendly manner.

They've developed a process that uses blowdown water from power plants' cooling towers in the treatment of produced water from oil and gas operations.

The blowdown water, they say, contains the very compounds used to remove scaling elements in produced water.

Combined with the rest of their proposed treatment process -- which consists of softening, organics and suspended solids removal, reverse osmosis, brine electrolysis and thermal desalination -- upcycling a waste product in this way could help reduce the cost of treating and reusing produced water because commercial chemicals would not be required.

As a side benefit, the process would also produce chlorine, which would be used as a disinfectant, and 10-pound brine, which can be used in industrial applications including water softening and oilfield fluids.

With the support of a $400,000 DOE grant, the research team will test its process in a real-world application, collecting water from Longview Power Plant and using produced water from a shale gas operation at the Morgantown Industrial Park.

For WaterWorld magazine, I'm Angela Godwin. Thanks for watching. 

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