Hexbyte Glen Cove Could AI help recover energy and fresh water from municipal wastewater? thumbnail

Hexbyte Glen Cove Could AI help recover energy and fresh water from municipal wastewater?

Hexbyte Glen Cove

Sidestream Elevated Pool Aeration station in Cal-Sag and Calumet River.

As city populations boom and the need grows for sustainable energy and water, scientists and engineers with the University of Chicago and partners are looking towards artificial intelligence to build new systems to deal with wastewater. Two new projects will test out ways to make “intelligent” water systems to recover nutrients and clean water.

“Water is an indispensable resource of our society, as it is required for sustaining life and economic prosperity,” said Junhong Chen, the Crown Family Professor in the Pritzker School of Molecular Engineering at the University of Chicago and lead water strategist at Argonne National Laboratory. “Our future economy and national security greatly depend on the availability of . However, there is a limited supply of renewable freshwater, with no substitute.”

Reduce, reuse

The U.S. Department of Energy announced that UChicago, along with Argonne National Laboratory, Northwestern University and other partners, will receive funding to develop an artificial intelligence-assisted system for recovery of energy, nutrients and freshwater from municipal wastewater.

The ultimate goal of the project, which will be funded at $2 million over three years, is to transform the existing U.S. treatment system for municipal wastewater into an intelligent water resource recovery system that will dramatically reduce energy consumption and become energy positive at a national scale.

The resulting water recovery system would benefit the water supply in underserved communities on Chicago’s South Side as well as the Great Lakes region in general, including Milwaukee and Detroit.

MWRD connects Des Plaines Inflow Tunnel to McCook reservoir construction. Credit: MWRD

“This project is an important step forward in realizing Argonne’s strategic plan to enhance our leadership in water-related science through pioneering research, discoveries and innovations using artificial intelligence,” said Chen.

The approach will combine artificial intelligence and machine learning for online learning of system dynamics, mathematical modeling for optimizing energy and nutrient recovery, and life-cycle analysis and modeling with respect to both the science and economics to guide system design. It will also involve development of novel materials for efficient solar steam generation and wireless sensors for real-time water quality monitoring.

The intelligent system concept for municipal wastewater recovery should also be applicable to other wastewaters, including industrial and agricultural.

The other partners include the Great Lakes Water Authority, Milwaukee Metropolitan Sewerage District, NanoAffix and two regional water innovation hubs—Current and the Water Council. The award is part of a slate of Department of Energy projects totaling $27.5 million for 16 water infrastructure projects to reduce energy use and carbon emissions in our aging water infrastructure, particularly in wastewater treatment.

In addition to Chen, the project team members include Seth Darling of Argonne, Jennifer Dunn of Northwestern University and Argonne, George Wells of Northwestern University, and Asst. Prof. Yuxin Chen of the University of Chicago.

Des Plaines tunnel system construction with water. Credit: MWRD

Removing toxic water contaminants

Another project seeks to use AI in molecular engineering to detect and remove water contaminants.

Water-contaminating chemicals such as polyfluoroalkyl substances, or PFAS, may lead to severe environmental and health effects, such as low infant birth weight, cancer, and thyroid hormone disruption. The current approaches for detecting these chemicals are expensive, time-consuming, and require bulky equipment and skilled personnel. The vast number of contaminants—over 4,000 in the PFAS family alone—also prohibit conventional development of biological or chemical probes.

A project headed by University of Chicago and Argonne scientists will develop a platform using molecular simulation, organic synthesis, and to rapidly explore the large molecular space of potential PFAS probes and efficiently identify, design, and fabricate new chemical probes for sensing and removing contaminants from water.

The work, which partners with Current, Metropolitan Water Reclamation District of Greater Chicago, will also advance data science, characterization at the Argonne Advanced Photon Source, and high-performance simulation. The scientists hope it could potentially transfer to the screening and removal of other water contaminants, such as pharmaceuticals, to advance global public health. It is funded through the Discovery Challenge program from the Center for Data and Computing (CDAC), with support from UChicago’s Office of Research and National Laboratories Joint Task Force Initiative.

Project scientists include Junhong Chen, Stuart Rowan, and Andrew Ferguson of the Pritzker School of Molecular Engineering, Rebecca Willett and Eric Jonas of the UChicago Computer Science department, Seth Darling of the Pritzker School and Argonne, and Sang Soo Lee and Chris Benmore of Argonne.

Could AI help recover energy and fresh water from municipal wastewater? (2021, May 11)
retrieved 12 May 2021
from https://phys.org/news/2021-05-ai-recover-energy-fresh-municipal.html

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Hexbyte Glen Cove Could key gene system discovery be suffocating corals' last gasp? thumbnail

Hexbyte Glen Cove Could key gene system discovery be suffocating corals’ last gasp?

Hexbyte Glen Cove

A unique stress experiment aligned deoxygenation stress to the natural night-day cycle of common reef-building corals from The Great Barrier Reef. Credit: Morgan Bennett-Smith

Oxygen is life, in or out of the water, raising concerns that declining ocean oxygen stores are adding an additional environmental stress to already highly vulnerable coral reef ecosystems. While the twin effects of ocean warming and acidification are well studied, until now there has been limited understanding of how the growing threat of ocean deoxygenation may impact the ability of corals to function and ultimately form reefs.

A unique deoxygenation-reoxygenation stress experiment has given researchers from the University of Technology Sydney (UTS), University of Konstanz and University of Copenhagen insight into how corals manage deoxygenation stress and the key genes that likely drive varied stress susceptibility that commonly results in .

The study, published in Global Change Biology discovered that, like other animals and humans, corals have a similar, sophisticated response to low oxygen levels, or hypoxia. The response is commonly activated during oxygen-deprived exercise and cancer growth in humans

“Ocean deoxygenation is potentially a greater and more immediate threat to coral reef survival than warming and acidification.” lead author and UTS Ph.D. candidate in the Rachel Alderdice said.

“Coral reefs are increasingly being exposed to low oxygen events due to climate change and localised pollution often caused by nutrient run-off.

“The extent to which corals are at risk from future declines in background ocean oxygen levels relies on their hypoxia detection and response systems so to be able to identify this gene response system is significant and exciting,” Ms Alderdice, from the UTS Climate Change Cluster(C3) Future Reefs Research Programme, said.

The unique stress experiment aligned deoxygenation stress to the natural night-day cycle of common reef-building corals from The Great Barrier Reef. Transcriptomic RNA sequencing revealed the key genes expressed that help keystone species such as Acropora tenuis respond to, and tolerate, .

However the research also revealed that not all the coral appeared to be equally sensitive to hypoxia.

“We found those corals that bleached had a delayed, less-effective programming of their hypoxia response gene system compared to the non-bleached coral. The differences in programming abilities for this key gene system may be fundamental to understanding what dictates corals’ capacity to tolerate environmental stress—and ultimately how to more accurately predict the future for ,” University of Konstanz, and senior author, Dr. Christian Voolstra said

The researchers say that the identification of such ‘common switch’ gene repertoires to stress might provide a novel means to identify of interest to guide novel diagnostics for improved reef coral management or as target for selective breeding ‘ restoration’ efforts aimed at increasing coral stress resistance.

Co-author Associate Professor David Suggett, who leads the UTS C3 Future Reefs Research Program said “A fundamental concern we have right now is whether corals and reefs are already feeling the effects of sub-lethal O2 . We have been so preoccupied with unravelling the effects of ocean warming and acidification, we have forgotten deoxygenation, despite its life sustaining role and that is an ocean property we can measure well”.

“This work confirms our recent analysis that continued ocean deoxygenation will play a critical role in shaping the future of our reefs, and yet another reason to urgently tackle ,” he said.

Could key gene system discovery be suffocating corals’ last gasp? (2020, November 16)
retrieved 17 November 2020
from https://phys.org/news/2020-11-key-gene-discovery-suffocating-corals.html

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