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CWRS Participates in Science Odyssey

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CWRS Participates in Science Odyssey

Friday, May 11, the Centre for Water Resources Studies participated in the nationwide “Science Odyssey”, Canada’s largest celebration of science and mathematics.  Opening the water quality lab’s doors to the public, researchers from the CWRS performed demonstrations for visitors and got a chance to explain concepts and technologies relating to their work or to water quality in general.

            Fatou Secka, who will start her master’s degree at the CWRS in the fall, exhibited her 3D printed microscopes.  These key-sized devices clip on to the camera in any smartphone, turning it into a powerful medical diagnostic tool.  Fatou has already tested the inexpensive and accessible microscopes in the Gambia, and she is excited about how they will continue to help the developing world as the technology becomes more refined.

            Lindsay Anderson and Ryan Sampson, a graduate student and undergraduate respectively, demonstrated coagulation, a chemical technique to purify water.  They combined tap water with biomaterials to simulate lake water and showed how chemical treatment can make the dangerous biomaterials clump together and sink to the bottom, easily separable from the pure sample.

            Another student, Kyle Rauch, displayed a new water treatment device that uses a UV L.E.D. s.  Most are familiar with L.E.D.s (light emitting diodes) that emit visible light, like those used for cell-phone screens, camera flashes, or even light bulbs.  Now, the technology has developed enough that L.E.D.s can generate light even outside the visible spectrum, ultraviolet.  Ultraviolet (UV) light can inactivate bacteria, so it is often used for water purification.  Until recently, however, UV could only be generated using mercury-based lamps that are dangerous, inefficient, and clumsy.  UV L.E.D.s are already smaller and safer than mercury lamps, and as they are refined, they will become more energy-efficient, too.

            Finally, Bofu Lee, a graduate student, explained his current research into mitigating the dangers of the lead pipes that are characteristic of old buildings.  When water flows through lead plumbing, some of the toxic metal leeches off the pipes and enters the water, causing serious medical effects.  Bofu’s research focuses on compounds that could be dissolved in water that would chemically limit the extent to which lead can leech off the pipes.  While his work will not completely solve the problem of lead pipes, it can certainly blunt the edge of the damage done by lead in water.

            Overall, it was a successful afternoon for CWRS.  Members of the public, students and teachers from other faculties, and friends and families of researches all dropped by to tap into the discussion about the research, techniques, and technologies worked on in the water lab.


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