Scientists from the University of Wisconsin - Milwaukee are using raw sewage samples to learn a great deal of information about a city’s population. UWM researchers, in conjunction with colleagues at the Marine Biological Laboratory in Woods Hole, MA, determined that the bacteria found in raw sewage is similar to those found in the gastro-intestinal tracks of people from the community - that the sewage provides an accurate picture of community health. Sampling the guts of thousands of individuals is prohibitively expensive, but this new approach of monitoring sewage would allow public health officials and other interested parties to look at an entire city at once.
A collaboration between researchers at the University of West England Bristol (UWE Bristol) and Oxfam, an international organization dedicated to fighting poverty, is proving that urine might be an invaluable source of electricity in refugee camps and other impoverished areas. For decades, utilities in developed countries have derived energy from the methane found wastewater, but in areas where such complex treatment schemes are not possible, simple solutions such as a “pee-power” toilet could offer an inexpensive and desperately needed source of energy.
American researchers at the 2015 national meeting of American Chemical Society outlined the details of an unexpected source of precious metals - sewage. That’s right. According to new research, organic materials (biosolids) generated by wastewater treatment plants may be an untapped source of precious metals and rare elements, including gold, silver, platinum, copper, palladium and vanadium that are used to make cell phones, computers, and other electronic devices.
In a new study, scientists at Rice University have found that high value strains of oil-rich algae, which can be used as a feedstock for algae-based biofuels, can remove more than 50% of phosphorus and 90% of nitrates from wastewater. Working in collaboration with the Houston Department of Public Works and Engineering, the scientists operated a pilot-scale treatment system at a Houston’s wastewater treatment plant.
Engineers at the University of Sheffield in the United Kingdom have been using the seemingly unconventional method of tracking glowing tampons in a water body to identify areas of pollution from wastewater. Often, tampons soak up the optical brighteners, chemicals added to detergents and other cleaners to enhance whites and bright colors - the same stuff that makes your white t-shirt glow in the black light of a bowling alley. The tampons then glow under ultraviolet light. Because the natural, untreated cotton in tampons readily absorbs the chemicals, they have the potential to be a convenient and inexpensive indicator of pollution in rivers and streams.