Water & Wastewater Treatment

WWT December 2016

Water & Wastewater Treatment Magazine

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Page 20 of 39

In the know Students at United Arab Emirates University (UAEU) have developed a portable device that can detect heavy metal levels in water at source. As part of the UAEU's Summer Undergraduate Research Experiences (SURE) programme, the four students and their supervising professors spent six weeks developing the device which allows concentrations of lead in water to be accurately measured at the source, rather than samples having to be transported to a lab. "It is very important to have methods to measure heavy metals at low concentrations because we do have heavy metals at low concentrations in the water – not necessarily the drinking water but in the grey water," said Thies Thiemann, Professor of Chemistry at UAEU. "Grey water is usually put back onto the fields so some of the grey water ends up in agricultural produce. From that point of view it is RESEARCH ROUND UP Portable device detects heavy metals in grey water at source important to monitor heavy metals in that type of water. What ideally you want to have is a small device that you take along with you to sample the water directly and measure it. And this was one of the considerations when the team worked on the device." Currently, heavy metals in water are measured using instruments such as inductively coupled plasma (ICP). However, they are costly, high maintenance and require scientists and researchers to bring their water samples to the lab for analysing. Prof Thiemann said cost and the need to transport the sample was the other determining factor for the RISING UP team when developing the device. "Nowadays it is very important to analyse things cheaply. It is a question of cost very oŠen, especially for developing countries where price is definitely a concern. So ideally you want to have a device that you can take out into the countryside, that is cheap to run and low maintenance." The new device uses a plastic electrode to estimate concentrations of lead ions at the parts-per-billion level through a solid contact (polyaniline) ion-to-electron transducer. The project team said that the device could be used worldwide and was designed with the international agricultural industry in mind. ● 22 Event preview: Utility Week Live 2017 ● 24 Q&A: Drilling and Tapping competition ● 27 Digging Deeper: Brexit and the WFD ● 31 Products: Pipes and Drainage 6 Dec Future of the Water Sector conference, Leicester. 18 Jan Utility Week Water Customer conference, Birmingham. 12 Dec Utility Week awards, London. 31 Jan WWT Wastewater conference, Birmingham. COmING UP Researchers are seeking to redress the lack of knowledge regarding the potential consequences that microplastics may have on agricultural landscapes through the application of sewage sludge. Until now, the environmental problem of microplastics has focused on their effects in the ocean and on marine life, but Luca Nizzetto and Sindre Langaas, from the Norwegian Institute for Water Research (NIVA) and Martyn Futter, from the Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences (SLU) in Uppsala, say that the effects of microplastics in soils have largely been overlooked. In an article recently published Environmental Science & Technology, the researchers said that while sewage sludge is usually regarded as waste, it represents a resource when it comes to agriculture and horticulture. With wastewater treatment plants receiving large amounts of microplastics emitted from households, industry and surface run-off in urban areas, most of these microplastics accumulate in the sewage sludge. The researchers' estimates suggest that between 110,000 and 730,000 tons of microplastics are transferred every year to agricultural soils in Europe and North America. There is very little knowledge of the effect of microplastics on soil organisms, and their impact on farm productivity and food safety is unknown. "Clearly further research is needed to get an overview of the problem - and to find solutions - so that the growing need in the community for recycling and the so-called circular economy can be safeguarded," said Nizzetto in conclusion. Effects of microplastics in sludge examined www.wwtonline.co.uk | WWT | DECEMBER 2016 | 21 British Water has appointed Lloyd Martin as its chief executive. He had been serving in the role on an interim basis since March. Martin brings 25 years of water industry experience working both in the UK and in international markets, including roles as regional director for Severn Trent Services International and business development manager at Anglian Water International. He has also undertaken a three-year assignment as the UK water industry's international trade advisor to the UK government. i2O, the smart water network solutions company, has announced that water industry veteran Kevin Starling has joined its Advisory Board. Starling has spent 30 years in the utility industry and has led a number of water companies including United Utilities Australia, Sofia Water in Bulgaria and ESVAL, the first privatised water company in Chile. Precast concrete drainage manufacture Kijlstra has appointed Les Vile as a sales engineer covering covering the South West, South and Mid Wales. He joins the company from Colas Products where he was responsible for selling the company's range of products to the highways and utilities markets. North East wastewater treatment specialist Premier Tech Aqua (PTA) has announced the appointment of a new Financial Controller, Leigh Dobson, following a series of new contract wins and an increase in sales by 12%. The team has recently expanded with the appointment of three regional Sales Managers and an Engineering Sales Manager all of whom are responsible for driving sales throughout the UK.

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