19 news posts related to Engineering

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Harmful dyes in lakes, rivers can become colorless with new, sponge-like material

Anthony Dichiara, left, and Jin Gu prepare an experiment to remove color from water using a sustainably made, reusable sponge material.

Dyes are widely used in industries such as textiles, cosmetics, food processing, papermaking and plastics. Globally, we produce about 700,000 metric tons of dye each year to color our clothing, eyeshadow, toys and vending machine candy. During manufacturing, a tenth of all dye products are discharged into the waste stream — most escape conventional wastewater-treatment processes and remain in the environment, often reaching lakes, rivers and holding ponds, and contaminating the water for the aquatic plants and animals that live there. 

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Small hydroelectric dams increase globally with little research, regulations

Small dam with water flowing over its edge into shallow, rocky pond.

Hydropower dams may conjure images of the massive Grand Coulee Dam in Washington state or the Three Gorges Dam in Hubei, China. But not all dams are the stuff of documentaries. Tens of thousands of smaller hydroelectric dams exist around the world, and all indications suggest that the number could substantially increase in the future. These structures are small enough to avoid the numerous regulations large dams face and are built more quickly and in much higher densities. 

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Are petite poplars the future of biofuels? UW studies say yes

Chang Dou standing in front of poplar tree stand

In the quest to produce affordable biofuels, poplar trees are one of the Pacific Northwest’s best bets — the trees are abundant, fast-growing, adaptable to many terrains and their wood can be transformed into substances used in biofuel and high-value chemicals that we rely on in our daily lives. But even as researchers test poplars’ potential to morph into everything from ethanol to chemicals in cosmetics and detergents, a commercial-scale processing plant for poplars has yet to be achieved. 

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