Ponding water on agricultural fields poses
a problem both for farmers and scientists. Blind inlets provide a tool for
farmers to eliminate this water from their fields and for scientists to manage
agricultural pollutants in the Lake Erie watershed, according to an
Agricultural Research Service (ARS) news release.
Because prairie potholes in crop fields
are prone to collecting water that has no natural outlet, farmers often install
tile risers to drain the excess. Risers are perforated vertical pipes that
extend 0.3 m (1 ft) or more above the soil and connect directly to subsurface
tile drainage networks. Water is discharged by the subsurface networks into the
nearest field ditch without filtration or processing. Agricultural pollutants
drained from the potholes in northeast Indiana’s St. Joseph River watershed
eventually reach Lake Erie, the news release says.
ARS scientist Doug Smith and others
developed blind inlet systems to facilitate filtered field drainage. The
systems are constructed by digging a 0.9-m (3-ft) square area at the lowest
point of each pothole and lining the area with layers of gravel, tile lines,
and other drainage materials, the news release says.
Smith studied quality of the drainage
water from tile risers and the blind inlets. Water samples from risers had the
highest levels of total phosphorus and almost all samples had higher levels of
sediment, soluble phosphorus, total phosphorus, and nitrogen than those from
inlets. On average, samples from inlets had 78% lower phosphorus loads and 79%
lower sediment loads than those samples from risers, the news release says.
under Chesapeake Bay boasts an ancient history
Salty groundwater lying under the Chesapeake Bay has an ancient history,
according to a study by U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) scientists. More than
1000 m (0.6 mi) under the bay lies a body of seawater, which is twice as salty
as modern seawater. This ancient water dates back 100 to 145 million years,
according to a USGS news release.
A remnant from the
Early Cretaceous North Atlantic Sea, the water was preserved underground when a
massive comet or meteorite struck the area and created the Chesapeake Bay about
35 million years ago, the news release says.
“This study gives
us confidence that we are working directly with seawater that dates far back in
Earth’s history,” as said in the release by Jerad Bales, acting USGS associate
director for water. “The study also has heightened our understanding of the
geologic context of the Chesapeake Bay region as it relates to improving our
understanding of hydrology in the region.”
The study has been published in the Nov. 14 issue of the journal, Nature.
Space station of the sea may start explorations by 2016
The SeaOrbiter, a
mobile international oceanic station, could begin exploring the open sea and
abyss as early as 2016.
station would provide an underwater habitat enabling 18 crew members to live,
explore, and broadcast their adventures and research through on-board
communications systems. Constructed from recycled aluminum, the approximately
454-Mg (500-ton) station has a lifespan of about 15 years and will include a
small propulsion system. Some inner spaces will be pressurized to allow divers
to undertake daily missions.
The “eye” of the
vessel is designed to measure a total 58 m (190 ft) tall with 18 m (59 ft)
reaching above the surface of the ocean. It will support the crow’s nest and
communications systems. Currently a 90-day, crowd-funding campaign is being
held to finance the construction of the eye of the vessel. Construction is
scheduled to start in spring 2014, the news release says.
brought together sea and space experts to design and build the station. The
first underwater missions are planned for 2016 in the Mediterranean, the news
Hydrogasification system uses biosolids to produce energy
In November, the University of
California, Riverside, and the California Energy Commission (Sacramento,
Calif.) unveiled a
new system that uses biomass feedstock to produce substituted natural gas.
The university’s College of Engineering
Center for Environmental Research and Technology (CE-CERT) Advanced
Thermochemical Research Laboratory has been developing systems that
thermochemically convert biomass into energy, according to a university fact sheet.
The laboratory has
been working for more than a decade to develop the steam hydrogasification
reaction process demonstration unit (PDU), which uses steam and recycled
hydrogen to transform carbon-based materials into fuel. It is designed to be
12% more efficient and can process material 10 times faster than conventional
dry gasification systems, according to a university news release.
The PDU does not
require oxygen or drying of feedstock and is able to use municipal solid waste
or biosolids from water resource recovery facilities to produce fuel, the fact
sheet says. The system is designed to maintain low operating temperatures and
pressures, allowing it to operate efficiently at a low cost, the fact sheet
The laboratory also houses two other process
systems including a feedstock pretreatment unit and water gas shift reactor
that can process output from the PDU into substituted natural gas, the fact
CE-CERT is using a PDU scale reactor to
demonstrate its continuous operation at the fluidized bed reactor and to design
the pilot-plant-sscale process. Researchers expect to build a commercial-scale
unit within 3 years, the fact sheet says.