This week on the blog we are featuring a video submitted by Samuel Dantas, an electrical engineering student from the Universidade de Brasilia (UnB), located in the capital of Brazil. Samuel learned about our social media campaign through one of our PIRE students, who is currently doing her research in Brazil. Samuel felt making this video would provide for a good opportunity to share with the world one of the research projects currently conducted at UnB- one that involves both students and the community in an effort to reuse materials.
Samuel’s video explains how the college of Engineering at UnB collects used oil and treats it so that it can be used as fuel for a fleet of UnB buses. These buses transport hundreds of students daily throughout the different UnB campuses that are located throughout the Federal District of Brazil. This novel idea taught members of the community to refrain from discarding used oil down the drain or in green areas; thus also allowing the community to play a role in preserving their local environment. This effort also includes outreach activities, where students attend local events to teach the community about how to collect the oil, as well as to show and give away some of the byproducts that are created from reused oil (i.e. soap).
For Samuel, “reclaim is recycling, reusing, and transforming something that people think is not useful anymore into something that can be important for many others things again.”
We encourage you to look at the project’s Facebook page https://www.facebook.com/pages/Projeto-BioGama/162420853845548?fref=ts and refer to their many videos on YouTube, which can be found by typing “Projecto BioGama” in the search engine.
This week, we are featuring the work of Shuai Luo, Mohan Qin, Hayden Tse, and Katherine Olson from Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University (Virginia Tech). Shuai and Mohan are PhD students of Environmental Science and Engineering; Hayden and Katherine are undergraduate students, respectively studying Civil Engineering and Environmental Science. Their video placed as the third runner-up in our “Reclaim is…” Video Campaign. In this video, the students teach us about the use of a microbial electrolysis cell with forward osmosis (MEC-FO) system, which can recover ammoniacal nitrogen, water, and electricity from wastewater or landfill leachate. As students, the group feels that it is their responsibility to make contributions in this region. In order to achieve the goal of reclaiming water, nutrients, and energy, this research group combines microbial fuel cells with forward osmosis.
Shuai, Mohan, Hayden, and Katherine are all members of the Environmental Biotechnology & Bioenergy Laboratory (EBBL) research group at Virginia Tech. They learned about the “Reclaim is…” contest from their research group advisor, Dr. Zhen He. The group decided to get involved in the campaign in order to disseminate the concepts of water recovery and environmental protection. To Dr. He and his students, reclaim means recovering resources from wastewater, to protect the environment, help save resources, and reduce financial costs.
To learn more about Dr. He’s research group’s work with MEC-FO systems, check out their website (http://www.ebbl.cee.vt.edu/), and read one of their recent publications:
Qin, M. and He, Z.* (2014) Self-supplied ammonium bicarbonate draw solute for achieving wastewater treatment and recovery in a microbial electrolysis cell – forward osmosis coupled system. Environmental Science & Technology Letters. Vol 1, pp 437-441.
In this week’s blog we feature the video “Reclaiming waste for the community” submitted by PJ Accetturo. In this video we learned about a community aquaponic system in which fish waste is reclaimed as a fertilizer for both vegetables and aquatic plants. The system not only reclaims nutrients but also provides a food source to community members in need.
PJ Accetturo is a local film maker in the Tampa area. He currently works for a non-profit called The Underground Network which serves as an incubator for small to medium sized nonprofits. He found out about the video through a friend in the public health program at USF. When asked about what made him think of the video he replied, “I enjoy helping the community, and telling stories of places where people are reclaiming to make a difference.” To him “reclaiming is about taking waste and resurrecting it into use again.” Accetturo has made another video about The Well, the organization that made the aquaponic system featured in the “Reclaim is…” campaign submission. Donated bike parts are also reclaimed at The Well’s ReCylcle Bin that are given to people who need transportation. At The Well they reclaim more than water/energy/nutrients, they are reclaiming a sense of community. The Well offers a host of services like the aquaponically produced food and recycled bikes for people in need, more importantly it provides people with a voice, community, and friendship.
This week Reclaim is featuring our first runner up video winner of the 2015 “Reclaim Is…” video and photo campaign and creator Victor R. Flores, MA graduate from the USF Patel College of Global Sustainability.
When asked to write for this blog, Victor R. Florez said: “This video is one of several projects that I filmed during my stay in South India and is part of a series on sustainable agriculture, architecture and water management articles on my website. My good friend and Environmental Engineering student at USF told me about this contest and seeing how aligned it is with my daily work, I immediately begun writing the script. For me, Reclaim is the very foundation of biological life – our bodies reclaim oxygen to breathe, we reclaim vitamins from the sun, we reclaim water to survive, the food we eat is reclaimed from the earth which, itself, relies on this omnipresent process of natural chemical reactions. Thus, for humans, Reclaim is about better understanding our place in the larger ecosystem and living in a progressive manner that is conducive to life and healthy development.”
He further added: “This philosophy is the underlying theme of my Urban Villager website, a sustainability and self-empowerment blog that is an ongoing effort to raise awareness about detrimental settlement patterns and lifestyles and is committed to investing in projects related to sustainable community building and urban regeneration. I am a sustainability designer, cross-cultural liaison, and recent MA graduate from the USF Patel College of Global Sustainability.”
In the following weeks, Reclaim will be featuring our top video and photo award winners, their motivation behind producing their video and what “Reclaim” means to them. We will begin with featuring our first place video winner, Jordy Wolfand. Jordy is a PhD student in Civil and Environmental Engineering at Stanford University and she is part of the Luthy Research Group.
When asked to write for this blog, Jordy Wolfand said: “I’m so happy that so many people watched and voted for my video, thank you! I originally made part of the animation in a class I took last quarter called Educating STEM Thinkers, taught through the Institute of Design and Graduate School of Education here at Stanford. I’m dedicated to engineering outreach and think it’s important to be able to bridge the gap between academia and the public. I heard about the Reclaim Video competition through Re-inventing the Nation’s Urban Water Infrastructure (ReNUWIt), the NSF engineering research center I’m a part of, and I thought my video might be a good fit.”
She further added that: “I’ve always been inspired by the resiliency of nature, and I was excited to see so many of the submissions incorporate natural systems as a way to solve human issues. I think it’s essential we prioritize cycling resources to ensure a sustainable future, especially in urban areas. If you’re interested in learning more about the research ReNUWIt is doing to change how we manage urban water, check out our website at http://www.renuwit.org/, or my lab group’s website at http://web.stanford.edu/group/luthygroup/.”
We received nine video entries and three photo entries to our “Reclaim is…” campaign. The entries were all judged by the Reclaim social media team at USF for the following criteria: Number of Votes by the Public (25%), Communicating the Ideas of “Reclaim” (25%), Creativity and Originality (20%), Entertainment Value (20%), Mentioning “Reclaim” or Use of the Hashtag (10%).
The top video award goes to Jordyn Wolfand for “Reclaiming drinking water from urban stormwater.”
The first runner-up was Victor Florez, for “Reclaim is: Doing more with less”
The second runner-up was PJ Accetturo for “Reclaiming waste for the community”
The third runner-up was Shuai Luo for “Reclaiming is to recover nutrient, energy, and water: All in one by MEC-FO.”
We also received the following excellent videos:
Maya Trotz, “Reclaim is… Innovating where you live”
Samuel Dantas Rocha, “Reclaim is… Reúso de óleo usado”
Carolyne Guto, “Utilization of copra meal (by-product from oil extraction of coconut) in fish feed formulation”
Ivy Drexler, “Green energy from wastewater”
Lorena Sanchez, “Reclaim is… Seed preservation”
Congratulations also goes out to Hugo Castro, the winner of the photo contest!
Congratulations to Dr. Maya Trotz who was elected to the board of directors of the Association of Environmental Engineering & Science Professors (AEESP). She was selected through a competitive national election process to serve on the AEESP board for three years.
Dr. Trotz is an associate professor in the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering at the University of South Florida. Her research and education interests focus on the nexus of geochemistry/water quality and global/community sustainability. Dr. Trotz has forged non-traditional university partnerships with local and international entities and engages in work that is interdisciplinary, transdisciplinary, and applied.
She was the winner of the 2014 AEESP Award for Outstanding Contributions to environmental engineering and science education. She was also the co-chair for the 2011 AEESP Education and Research Conference held in Tampa, Fl.
AEESP was founded in 1963 and has members in universities throughout the world. The association works to improve education and research programs, encourages graduate education, and serves the profession by providing information to government agencies and the public, and provides direct benefits to its members.
In this week’s video we will be learning about silver nanoparticles and how they affect the bacteria in wastewater treatment plants, and how new technologies/methods can be applied to protect public health and improve wastewater treatment plants.
Silver has been widely used because of its antibacterial properties. Silver affects bacterial membrane proteins and accumulates in the membrane, affecting its permeability. It then enters the cell, generates Reacting Oxygen Species (ROS), releases Silver ions and affects bacterial DNA; then the bacteria dies. Silver has been used for things like keeping the surface of a door knob clean and/or household appliance. However, silver has other implication when it comes to human health and the environment. In humans, when high concentrations of silver are present they can suffer a condition known as argyria, which causes skin discoloration. Silver on animals, such as fish, can cause genetic changes on embryos and/or bioaccumulate, and affects growth rates on phytoplankton. Furthermore, the inputs of silver nanoparticles from industry, medical fields and domestic use end-up in wastewaters and it can affect the bacteria “working” on the secondary treatment of these wastewater treatment plants.
Predictive models have been widely applied on research aiming hydrology and bathing water quality. In this week’s video we will learn more about Artificial Neural Networks and how those can be applied to predict bathing water quality and improve wastewater treatment plants. These models are useful because they are based on machine learning, which means that they are capable of “learning” from past scenarios and predict what could happen on future scenarios.
Check out this week’s video to learn more about this. We will have Dr. Andrew P. Duncan and Emma Clarke, both from University of Exeter, talking about these predictive models and silver nanoparticles, respectively.
Links – Background information
Contributors to blogpost: Abdiel E. Laureano-Rosario
Contributors to blogpost: Zaida Darley University of South Florida Amy Duggan and Logan Williams University of the Virgin Islands
This week’s video discusses how improving waste water management on land can improve marine ecosystems. The human opportunist pathogen, Serratia marcescens, is often associated with hospital acquired infections and is found in human waste. When this waste is not treated properly and makes its way into marine environments it can cause white pox disease in endangered elkhorn corals (Acropora palmata). Although Serratia marcescens is found in the waste of other animals it was the strain found in sewage that was causing the white pox. The city of Key West, Florida which faced problems with white pox killing their corals is a good case study showing that improving waste water treatment can decrease white pox epidemics. Since they upgraded their waste water treatment facility they have not had any white pox outbreaks.
We have found white pox disease in the Virgin Islands and are currently doing research to see whether this is also caused by the Serratia marcescens pathogen.
Watch this video and respond to the questions on the YouTube page.
This is the blog for week # of the Spring 2015 “Reclaim Is…” seminar.