By the numbers, the devastation wrought by Hurricane Sandy is hard to fathom. The so-called super storm swept through eight states, killing 159 people and causing $70 billion in damage.
From power outages to flooded streets, the hurricane exposed alarming weaknesses in the infrastructure of Eastern Seaboard cities. Now, Climate Central, an independent research and journalism organization based in Princeton, N.J., has added another number to that list: 11 billion gallons of sewage flowed into waterways during the storm.
The majority of overflows occurred in New York and northern New Jersey, where untreated and partially treated sewage flowed into surrounding rivers, bays, canals and, in some cases, streets, according to a recent Climate Central report.
“This record storm revealed how vulnerable the sewage and wastewater treatment system is to major coastal flooding,” says Alyson Kenward, a scientist who is the lead author of the report.
Such water repellant coatings could be used to protect wind turbine blades, airplane wings and for other applications. See the full video here.
For those working to clean up some of the worst water pollutants on Earth, gold and palladium might be getting considerably more precious.
Rice University researchers have been working with the metals for a decade to figure out a way to efficiently destroy complex chemical pollutants. They have announced that the fruit of their labor is a technology called PGClear that they say can quickly decontaminate groundwater. Scientists from Rice, Stanford University and DuPont collaborated on the work, which will first be installed in June at a DuPont plant in Kentucky.
At its heart, the system uses pellets formed from a combination of the two metals. The pellets act as a catalyst to break down persistent cancer-causing industrial solvents like vinyl chloride, trichloroethene and chloroform into nontoxic methane and salt byproducts.
Technology is starting to let humanity harness wind and solar energy. But using alternative energies continues to be problematic because of the high cost and difficulty of converting and storing the power into energy that can be used at a later time.
To power households using intermittent sources, one possible avenue is to feed electricity produced by solar or wind energy systems into electrolyzers in the home. These devices use catalysts to drive a chemical reaction that converts electricity into chemical energy by splitting water into hydrogen and oxygen fuels. These can be stored until needed, when they can be re-converted to electricity.
In research published in Science Magazine on April 5, two chemists at the University of Calgary say they have found a way to turn water into hydrogen fuel at a thousandth of the cost of current methods using everyday materials.