A Washington, D.C., study examines advanced rainwater harvesting as a means to control overflows in urban combined sewer systems. It concluded that such systems could be valuable on a wide scale, with data indicating 95% effectiveness mitigating wet weather discharges.
Wisconsin's Dane County is taking new steps to ensure that water in its five principal lakes is clean. It recently acquired more than 100 acres of marshland, which acts as a natural filtering sponge against pollutants from nearby cropland.
Alaska's Department of Environmental Conservation has flagged the Kenai River as falling short of turbidity standards, and further measurements are now scheduled for summer. However, the documented problem has appeared only on certain days and may be linked to motorboat traffic.
Chesapeake Bay will be getting further relief from sewage pollution as the Hampton Roads Sanitation District begins pumping the stuff deep underground after treatment. The project aims to slash the amount of nitrogen and phosphorous reaching the lower bay from the district's plants by nearly 90% to comply with tougher federal environmental laws.
The potential for developing saturated conditions at various digital elevations is commonly determined by the topographic wetness index. A new study, however, suggests that a modified TWI is better when applied to depression-dominated areas.
The wetlands that underlie the Sri Lankan capital of Colombo once protected the area from flooding. Flash flooding is now frequent in the built-up city, but the wetlands may yet provide a solution.
An almost instantaneous and highly accurate method can detect pollutants in air down to as little as 1 part per billion. The technique, developed by University of Central Florida professor Konstantin Vodopyanov and his team, uses an infrared laser to gather 350,000 data points over a broad spectral range in about 7 milliseconds to simultaneously document the various molecules in an air sample.
Electrical issues hampering percussion and a feed breakdown had halted drilling by NASA's Mars Curiosity rover. But engineers have remotely jerry-rigged a solution using the rover's extended arm to generate the needed percussive effect that turns the drill into a jackhammer.
The basic, 19th-century design of the internal combustion engine remains stubbornly resistant to many further improvements in efficiency. But a major gain of more than 10% has been achieved by a team led by Amir Khajepour, a professor of mechanical and mechatronics engineering at Canada's University of Waterloo, with input and exhaust valves that can fully adjust their functioning to different conditions.
Liquid metal reminiscent of the stuff in the "Terminator" movies is part of the answer provided by researchers who have developed a way for machines to repair themselves. The metal, a gallium-based alloy, is suspended in the form of droplets in an elastomer that, when damaged, releases the droplets to heal the harm and even restore electrical connections.