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Good News: What Went Right Last Year

When much of the media is full of doom and gloom, it is easy to miss positive things like technological progress or new solutions that could improve our lives. And there were a lot of things to be optimistic about last year. Today, we wanted to share some of the most exciting and positive stories related to the one thing we at Eddy know best – water.  

Once biologically dead, England’s River Thames rebounds

Photo: ZSL

More than half a century after it was declared biologically dead, the River Thames in London, UK, has now seals, seahorses and even a few species of sharks living in it, a new “State of the Thames” report showed.

Interestingly, approximately 115 species of fish live in the river – providing food for three species of shark which swim above a river bottom where seahorse and eels can be found.

The report highlights the gradual work Zoological Society London has undertaken to reduce the pressure on life in the river over the last 60 years, when pollution and sewage decimated it. Short and long-term phosphorus concentrations have fallen, while dissolved oxygen has increased. Additionally, the report details a new “super sewer” to be complete in 2025 that will divert 95% of all sewage from the waterway. The future for the river appears to be bright.

Ralph Lauren shares an open source manual on a new eco-friendly system to dye cotton

Photo: Ralph Lauren

Annually, 20% of the world’s wastewater or trillions of litres of water are used for dyeing of fabric. Untreated, it is incredibly polluting. To make the water reusable, rigorous, lengthy, and costly treatment is required.

Enter Ralph Lauren who brought together leading innovators to develop a way to significantly reduce the amount of water, chemicals, and energy needed to colour cotton. The system they created enables up to 90% fewer processing chemicals, 50% less water, 50% less dye and 40% less energy without sacrificing colour or quality.

The system is called Color on Demand. Ralph Lauren and its partners released the manual on how to build one for free. Color on Demand uses a set of technologies that will enable the recycling and reuse of all the water from the dying process, to establish the world’s first scalable zero wastewater cotton dying system.

New hydrogel tablet can purify a litre of river water in an hour

Photo: University of Texas at Austin

Scientists and engineers at The University of Texas at Austin have created a hydrogel tablet that can quickly purify contaminated water with no energy required. One tablet can disinfect a litre of river water and make it safe to drink in an hour or less.

Today, to purify water we boil or pasteurize it. But that takes energy and it is not practical for people in parts of the world without these resources.

The special hydrogel tablets generate hydrogen peroxide to neutralize bacteria at an efficiency rate of more than 99.999%. The hydrogen peroxide works with activated carbon particles to attack essential cell components of bacteria and disrupt their metabolism. 

The process requires zero energy input and does not create harmful byproducts. The hydrogels can easily be removed, and they do not leave any residue.

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