Palestinian farmers benefit from Birmingham water technology project

University of Birmingham scientists have worked with international students to produce prototype desalination equipment that could help Palestinian farmers avoid water shortages and grow crops efficiently. The equipment is built from off-the-shelf parts and could be deployed easily and relatively cheaply across the Middle East. The prototype system is currently being trialled in the UK and Israel, with field tests soon to begin in Palestine. Groundwater resources around the world are becoming increasingly depleted and salinised, with many aquifers straddling political boundaries. Such resources in the Jordan Valley are shared among Israeli, Jordanian and Palestinian residents. The training and research programme has seen students construct desalination prototypes based on a simple but efficient batch-reverse osmosis (RO) technology that recovers up to 80% of the salinized water – making it useable for irrigation purposes. Programme leader Professor Philip Davies from the University Of Birmingham has worked with academics and students in the UK, Israel, Jordan and Palestine – publishing the group’s findings in the journal Desalination and Water Treatment. “Our work demonstrates ...

I’ve always wondered: are water crystals bad for the environment?

Michelle Ryan does not work for, consult, own shares in or receive funding from any company or organisation that would benefit from this article, and has disclosed no relevant affiliations beyond their academic appointment. This is an article from I’ve Always Wondered, a series where readers send in questions they’d like an expert to answer. Send your question to alwayswondered@theconversation.edu.au This is an excellent question, and something an environmentally conscious gardener might wonder. With changing rainfall patterns, drought and an increasing average temperature in Australia many people are looking for ways to save water in their garden, and adding water crystals to your soil appears to be a good solution. But what do we really know about water crystals and are they bad for the environment? Well, you can put your mind at ease: water crystals are not bad for the environment. In fact, in other forms they are actually used to help protect the environment. Water crystals are tiny super-absorbent polymers (a long chain that’s made up of identical repeating molecules), about the size of a sugar crystal. They are added to potting mix or added to soil in a garden bed to incr...