Blowing Bubbles

Did you know that bubbles can clean water? Specifically, dissolved air flotation (DAF) and ultrasound are two methods of making water safer with bubbles. DAF can be used to replace sedimentation in municipal drinking water treatment. Large particles are typically settled out using gravity, but with DAF, bubbles are produced by an oxygen tank pumping air into the bottom of a basin and small particles attach to the sides of the bubbles. The bubbles rise to the top of the basin and the particles are swept off the surface of the water by a skimmer.

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Dolfi ultrasound device is $149

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Greenwashing

All Natural. Organic. Eco-friendly. Green. Farm Fresh. These are the sexy buzzwords that draw us in to products that unscrupulously exploit our desire to go green. The FDA doesn’t regulate these terms, and they are often nothing more than just words. “Green” products contain the color green on the packaging. “Farm fresh” covers essentially any meat or dairy product. “Natural” is more of a sentiment than a descriptor. And just to give you a sense of the word “organic”, Dichloromethane is an organic compound and is toxic. I definitely wouldn’t want that in my salad. So then, how should caring consumers discern the environmentally-sound eggs from the chemical-ridden cosmetics?

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How Clean Can UV?

“UV radiation affects microorganisms by altering the DNA in the cells and impeding reproduction. UV treatment does not remove organisms from the water, it merely inactivates them.” – Water Research Center

For the longest time this summer I worked on a machine that performed persulfate-ultraviolet oxidation, but I really had no idea what it was. Looking at the machine, I could see that an oxygen tank and a beaker of persulfate solution were combining with my water samples and traveling through various tiny twisted tubes into a swirl of madness that then shot out in all directions and ended up in a scramble of numbers on the computer screen. So I asked around. Ten weeks of “asking around” later, and still all I knew was that somehow the glowing blue light was breaking down the carbon in my water samples and measuring its concentration.

On the left, persulfate-ultraviolet oxidation. Right, SteriPEN technology.

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Energizing a Continent

Off-grid provides lighting for families using a subscription service.
Off-grid provides lighting for families through a solar panel subscription service.

In my last post I mentioned non-profit and for-profit business ventures around the world with a mission to improve society and the environment. It would be naïve to say that the driving force in business is to benefit others. So what is driving entrepreneurs to Africa? An article recently featured in The New Yorker called “The Race to Solar-Power Africa” says it all. Continue reading “Energizing a Continent”

Echoing Green

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Abubaker Musuuza is the founder of: Village Energy Limited.

Echoing Green is a non-profit organization that provides support to entrepreneurs with solutions to social issues worldwide. Once an entrepreneur presents their idea, they are granted 90 thousand dollars to start their business. Financial advisers and other professionals support each business as they take off with their innovations. I chose to cover three such innovations and their creators on the blog today because I find non-profits essential to humanity. Sometimes it gets discouraging to think about how much financial support is needed to start a business. With Echoing Green, those issues are taken care of and inventors are allowed to do what they do best. They are free to create.

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Product Life

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Repurposed skateboard idea from boredpanda.com

When trends die, where do they go? You may be surprised to find that junk can go in more places than just the trash. In fact, there are five possibilities:

  1. Landfill
  2. Combustion – incineration is a popular method used in regions such as Japan but not the U.S.
  3. Recycle – recycling companies melt down certain materials so they can become new products
  4. Reuse – for example, rinsing out your starbucks cup and using it again instead of throwing it out
  5. Re-purpose – for instance, turning a broken sled into a new shelf

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Holy Cow

'She had high standards. Everything she did was well done.'

Dear fellow tree huggers, bloggers, and socialites: Follow me on twitter @definearth if you would like to participate in a weekly eco-challenge! For my sustainability class we are being given weekly challenges to change our perspective on personal impact and to encourage discussion surrounding the environment. This week was #nomeatweek and it was a little challenging for me, but I have had some really good meals. Continue reading “Holy Cow”