Monthly Archives: November 2013

WORLD’S FASTEST AMPHIBIOUS VEHICLE! WOW!

WATER CAR

 “It’s a car!  It’s a boat!  It’s fast, and babes seem to love it!”

Now here’s the ultimate wish list item for any sports car/water enthusiast who is into amphibious vehicles!

WaterCar‘s Panther is the world’s fastest amphibious off road vehicle.

The machine looks like a Jeep but has the soul of a high performance speed boat, which translates to roughly 80 mph on land and 44 mph on the water, powered by a Honda V6 engine.  

Check out the YouTube video, “Fast Amphibious Car – WaterCar Panther”, published on Jun 20, 2013


Weighing in at less than 3000 pounds, this newest amphibious vehicle is not only the fastest, but also the lightest. Unlike previous attempts at a boat/car hybrid (including the Gibbs Aquada which Richard Branson drove to set the record for fastest “car on water” crossing of the English Channel), WaterCar claims their PantherJet propulsion system combined with the 15 second shift from car to boat mode makes the transition almost seamless.

The Panther will only cost you $135,000.

Only $135K stands between you and (if the video above is to be believed) scores of women just clamoring to board your WaterCar and go fishing.

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6TH ANNUAL OTTAWA CHRISTMAS CONCERT and CAROL SING

CONCERT BLOG POSTER

  6th Annual Community Concert & Carol Sing 

 St. Timothy’s Presbyterian Church

2400 Alta Vista Drive

Sunday, Dec. 1, 2:00 p.m.

    ~ Presented by ~   

Garth Hampson
Dominic D’Arcy
NorthWinds Brass Quintet
Scola Basilicae
Linda Major
The fiVe Woodwind Quintet
The Emmanubells
St. Tim’s African Chorus
Natalie Harrison, Dominic D’Arcy’s Rising Star
Ainsley Phillips, Dominic D’Arcy’s Rising Star
St. Tim’s Choir

   Come join us for an afternoon of  

Christmas music and carol singing ~

a wonderful way to ‘sing in’ the Advent season

   Refreshments following  

   Free will donations in aid of
            the Heron Emergency Food Centre

   Come Celebrate with us

   Plenty of parking and Handicap accessible.

Six years ago, as Organist and Music Director of St. Timothy’s Presbyterian Church, I organized our first Christmas Community Concert and Carol Sing in aid of the Heron Emergency Food Centre.
Now I am so pleased to invite you to our ‘6th’ concert this coming Sunday afternoon.

                        Hope to see you there!   

 

BLUE-GREEN ALGAE LINKED TO MOTOR NEURON DISEASE

BLUE GREEN ALGAE

Breakthrough Discovery Links Blue-Green Algae With Motor Neuron Disease

The following excerpts are from Water Online, September 25, 2013

In summary:

  • UTSFor the first time UTS and US research has found a link between toxins produced by blue-green algae and motor neurone disease
  • Over 90 per cent of motor neuron diseases have had no known cause or cure   

M N DISEASEA recently identified link between a toxic amino acid found in blue-green algae and several motor neuron diseases could help researchers devise a therapy for the fatal conditions.

Blue-green algae (cyanobacteria), most often associated with nutrient runoff in coastal waters, produce a neurotoxic amino acid called β-methylamino-L-alanine, or BMAA.

RIVERAustralian waterways regularly succumb to toxic algal blooms, the NSW’s Barwon-Darling River System suffering one of the world’s largest in the summer of 1991-92 when a bloom spread for over 1000 kilometres.

There has been increasing evidence of a link between motor neuron disease and the consumption of food or water contaminated by blue-green algae but it wasn’t clear how the algal toxin was damaging the central nervous system.

KEN ROGERSNow, University of Technology, Sydney (UTS) researchers led by Dr Ken Rodgers, in collaboration with leading ethno botanist Dr Paul Cox and researchers fromPAUL COX the Institute of EthnoMedicine in Wyoming in the US, have discovered that BMAA mimics an amino acid called serine that is used to make human proteins. BMAA is mistakenly incorporated into human proteins in place of serine, resulting in damaged proteins which over time, build up to toxic levels and kill the cells.

The research findings are published today in the journal PLOS ONE. The first author of the paper, Dr Rachael Dunlop, said for many years people had linked BMAA with an increased risk of motor neuron disease.

“The missing piece of the puzzle was how this might occur. Finally, we have that piece,” said Dr Dunlop. “Common amongst all neurodegenerative diseases is the problem of clumps of proteins overloading cells and forcing them to ‘commit suicide’. This research reveals that BMAA can also trigger this process,”

MOTOR NEURONBMAA was originally identified in Guam after the indigenous people, the Chamorros, were found to suffer motor neurone disease up to 100 times more often than other people. The Chamorros used seeds from cycad palms to make flour, and regularly ate fruit bats, which also ate the seeds. Both these foodstuffs contained BMAA.  Since then, research has revealed increased incidences of MND in people who lived near lakes subject to frequent cyanobacterial blooms, among consumers of contaminated shellfish, and in soldiers deployed to the Gulf War between 1990-1991.

Over 90 per cent of motor neuron diseases have no known cause or cure. The diseases kill motor neurons in the brain and spinal cord, progressively paralysing the body.  Though MND is relatively rare, it has a high profile as a result of a number of high-profile people being affected including Professor Stephen Hawking.

SOURCE: University of Technology, Sydney (UTS)

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link to article ~ http://www.wateronline.com/doc/breakthrough-discovery-blue-green-algae-motor-neuron-disease-0001?sectionCode=News&templateCode=SponsorHeader&user=2702840&source=nl:38437

SPLITTING WATER INTO H2 AND O ~ WOW!!!

WATER SPLIT LIGHT
We all know that water is made up of atoms of hydrogen and oxygen, which are chemically combined in the ratio of two hydrogen atoms for every oxygen atom. It usually has a bluish tint and its also tasteless and odourless, but now remarkably a device uses light to split water into clean burning hydrogen.

The following excerpts are from the article, “Device uses light to split water into clean hydrogen”, posted by Mark Shwartz-Stanford, November 15, 2013

CARThe water splitter is a silicon semiconductor coated in an ultrathin layer of nickel and it could help pave the way for large-scale production of clean hydrogen fuel from sunlight, according to the researchers. Their results are published in the journal Science.  The goal is to supplement solar cells with hydrogen-powered fuel cells that can generate electricity when the sun isn’t shining or demand is high.

IMAGEThe image above shows two electrodes connected via an external voltage source splitting water into oxygen(O2) and hydrogen(H2). The illuminated silicon electrode (left) uses light energy to assist in the water-splitting process and is protected from the surrounding electrolyte by a 2-nm film of nickel.  (Credit: Guosong Hong, Stanford University)

Solar cells only work when the sun is shining,” says study co-author Hongjie Dai, a professor of chemistry at Stanford University. “When there’s no sunlight, utilities often have to rely on electricity from conventional power plants that run on coal or natural gas.”   A greener solution, Dai says, is to supplement the solar cells with hydrogen-powered fuel cells that generate electricity at night or when demand is especially high.

HOW TO SPLIT WATER
SCIENTISTSPhoto: Peichuan Shen, PhD student; Shen Zhao, PhD student; and Dr. Alexander Orlov

To produce clean hydrogen for fuel cells, scientists have turned to an emerging technology called water splitting. Two semi-conducting electrodes are connected and placed in water. The electrodes absorb light and use the energy to split the water into its basic components, oxygen and hydrogen.  The oxygen is released into the atmosphere, and the hydrogen is stored as fuel.  When energy is needed, the process is reversed. The stored hydrogen and atmospheric oxygen are combined in a fuel cell to generate electricity and pure water.   The entire process is sustainable and emits no greenhouse gases. But finding a cheap way to split water has been a major challenge…
SILICON SOLUTION
“Silicon, which is widely used in solar cells, would be an ideal, low-cost material,” says Stanford graduate student Michael J. Kenney, co-lead author of the Science study. “But silicon degrades in contact with an electrolyte solution… In STANDFORD U2011, another Stanford research team addressed this challenge by coating silicon electrodes with ultrathin layers of titanium dioxide and iridium. That experimental water splitter produced hydrogen and oxygen for eight hours without corroding.  “Those were inspiring results, but for practical water splitting, longer-term stability is needed,” Dai says. “Also, the precious metal iridium is costly. A non-precious metal catalyst would be desirable.”  To find a low-cost alternative, Dai suggested that Kenney and his colleagues try coating silicon electrodes with ordinary nickel.  “Nickel is corrosion-resistant,” Kenney says. “It’s also an active oxygen-producing catalyst, and it’s earth-abundant. That makes it very attractive for this type of application.”
NICKEL NANOFILM
For the experiment, the Dai team applied a 2-nanometer-thick layer of nickel onto a silicon electrode, paired it with another electrode, and placed both in a solution of water and potassium borate.  When light and electricity were applied, the electrodes began splitting the water into oxygen and hydrogen, a process that continued for about 24 hours with no sign of corrosion.  To improve performance, the researchers mixed lithium into the water-based solution. “Remarkably, adding lithium imparted superior stability to the electrodes,” Kenney says. “They generated hydrogen and oxygen continuously for 80 hours—more than three days—with no sign of surface corrosion.” … “Our lab has produced one of the longest lasting silicon-based photoanodes,” he says. “The results suggest that an ultrathin nickel coating not only suppresses corrosion but also serves as an electrocatalyst to expedite the otherwise sluggish water-splitting reaction… The scientists plan to do additional work on improving the stability and durability of nickel-treated electrodes of silicon as well as other materials.  The Precourt Institute for Energy and the Global Climate and Energy Project at Stanford and the National Science Foundation funded the work.

Article link – http://www.futurity.org/device-uses-light-split-water-clean-hydrogen/?utm_source=Futurity+Today&utm_campaign=aa7a65b600-November_15_201311_15_2013&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_e34e8ee443-aa7a65b600-206319993

 

WARM OR COLD WATER FREEZES FASTER? ~ DO YOU KNOW?

The following article and responses were posted by George Dvorsky ~ see link at end of blog.

ICEWe may finally know why warm water freezes faster than cool water.

It’s a conundrum that’s baffled scientists since the time of Aristotle: Why do warmer liquids freeze faster than cooler ones? Researchers from Singapore’s Nanyang Technological University have come up with an awesome new theory that may finally put the mystery to rest.

ERASTOIt’s called the Mpemba Effect, and scientists have tossed around a number of theories to explain it.  Some believe that the nucleation temperature of water and the specific impurities it contains determines whether or not the Mpemba Effect will occur. Alternate theories suggest that it may have something to do with certain elements that are in the water, like salt, carbon dioxide, or magnesium. These compounds form a briny muck that causes water to freeze lower and boil higher than it should. And because heating water will shake free some of these substances, the Mpemba Effect can be facilitated.

These aren’t great theories — but they’re the best we got. At least until now.

The Stretching of the Bonds

According to the new study, the Mpemba Effect is caused by a small amount of energy that’s stored in stretched hydrogen bonds.

WATER MOLECULESo here’s the deal: Water molecules have one oxygen atom and two hydrogen atoms, which are held together by covalent bonds — chemical bonds which share a pair of electrons between atoms and a molecule. Then there’s the hydrogen bond to consider; for water molecules, hydrogen atoms are likewise attracted to the oxygen atoms in other nearby water molecules, while water molecules repel each another.

O:H-O bond in water ice. Credit: Xi Zhang et al:WATER ICE BOND

What the researchers discovered was that, as water gets warmer, distance increases between water molecules owing to the repellant force between them. This causes the hydrogen bonds to stretch, and a stretching bond means there’s energy being stored (heating stores energy into the hydrogen bond by shortening and stiffening it) — and this stored energy gets released as the water is cooled, allowing the molecules to get closer to one another. And when molecules get close enough to each other, we get that neat little effect we call cooling, and eventually, freezing.

Now, warm water has more of this hydrogen bond stretching action happening than in cool water. Warm water, therefore, stores more energy — and it has more to release when exposed to freezing temperatures. Which explains why warmer water freezes faster than cooler water.

It sounds like the researchers are really onto something, but it’s just conjecture at this point. Their paper, which appears at the pre-print archive arXiv, still needs to be scrutinized by their peers: “O:H-O Bond Anomalous Relaxation Resolving Mpemba Paradox.”

http://io9.com/we-finally-know-why-warm-water-freezes-faster-than-cool-1458737239

Related link ~ http://io9.com/5505068/decades+long-physics-mystery-sparked-by-ice-cream

P.E.I.’S NEW WATER AUDIT PROGRAM

PEI WATER AUDIT

Switching to low-flow shower heads can cut water-use by half and save thousands of dollars from a hotel’s water bill. It’s just one of the suggestions the City of Charlottetown floated to hotels in a recent water audit. Laura Chapin explains in this CBC audio, ‘Conservation, policies and PEI’s water-use laws’, May 16, 2013 ~
http://www.cbc.ca/islandmorning/episodes/2013/05/16/conservation-policies-and-peis-water-use-laws/

The following article, Be My Guest ‘Hotels participate in a new water audit program in Prince Edward Island.’ by Clark Kingsbury appears in the May/June issue of WaterCanada magazine.

Charlottetown’s Water and Sewer Utility Department has launched an innovative project aiming to improve water efficiency in the city’s hotels. The Hotel Audit project offers to identify easy, cost-effective way for hotels to reduce water waste by both guests and staff. The project will be executed in partnership with Holland College’s Energy Systems Engineering Technology program. Three hotels are currently involved.

“This pilot supports the tourism industry while also reducing the amount of water used in our city during the busy summer months,” says Charlottetown Mayor Clifford Lee. “Involving Holland College in the process allows us access to the expertise of its energy systems engineering technology program managers and provides students with an excellent educational opportunity.” The project requires students to perform the audits with water and sewer utility staff members.

Despite public concern about the amount of water consumed by cruise ships docking in Charlottetown’s harbour, the city’s hotels actually consume more water than the Harbour Authority uses in an entire year.

“It seems lately that the focus has moved from conservation to trying to assign blame to a particular industry for high water usage, but the reality is that it’s not one industry or sector that is to blame,” says the water and sewer utility’s chair, Edward Rice. “Conserving water and finding ways to keep water use down during the summer months is the collective responsibility of all businesses, sectors, and industries, as well as governments and residents.”

The audit includes testing of all water use in the participating facilities, and provides recommendations with payback periods based on anticipated savings on water and energy bills.

 

PROGRAM REDUCES E. COLI THREATENS TORONTO’S CHERRY BEACH

CHERRY BEACH1

Excerpt from WaterCanada magazine’s July/August issue – “A power plant works to mitigate E. coli that threatens the sandy shores of Toronto’s Cherry Beach“, by Leslie Hetherington, as printed in the
On a summer day, residents and tourists often flock to one of Toronto’s many Lake Ontario beaches.

E COLI

However, leisure activities can be curtailed by high levels of Escherichia coli (E. coli) in the lake water. Although most E. coli strains are harmless, some can cause serious health problems to humans who swallow them or swim in water that has been contaminated by them. To protect the public, Ontario warns against swimming when tests show 100 E. coli-colony-forming units per 100 millilitres (CFU/100 mL) of water at a specific beach and has set this value as a Provincial Water Quality Objective (PWQO).
ENERGY CENTREAs a local natural gas-fired power plant with a community focus and an active ecological sustainability strategy, the Portlands Energy Centre (PEC) is well aware of the threats E. coli pose to nearby Cherry Beach, an eco-labelled Blue Flag beach for its adherence to strict global standards.
BLUE FLAGThe Blue Flag is a voluntary eco-label that works towards sustainable development of beaches and marinas through strict criteria dealing with water quality, environmental education and information, environmental management, safety, and other services.
The 550-megawatt (MW) PEC was built in 2008 to meet 25 per cent of Toronto’s electricity needs, primarily during peak demand times, and offset emissions from Ontario’s coal-fired generating TORONTO HARBOURstations. During operation, it takes water from Toronto Harbour’s ship channel and turning basin for generation processes and cooling, treats it on site, then releases it into the discharge channel and back to Lake Ontario’s Outer Harbour.
Some E. coli in sanitary sewer and storm water runoff from Toronto neighbourhoods north of the plant enters the ship channel and turning basin from two of the city’s overflows and then enters PEC’s water intake. From there, it may be inadvertently transferred to the Outer Harbour through normal discharge of cooling water, and could potentially reach the popular Cherry Beach.
MINISTRY ENVIRONMENT As part of the its Certificate of Approval for water permits, the Ministry of the Environment (MOE) requires the PEC to implement an E. coli control program for the water it uses, but the plant’s management chose to go further.
ECOMETRIXIn 2008, it hired EcoMetrix Inc., an environmental consulting firm, and embarked on a comprehensive four year E. coli monitoring program during the summer months that included the ship channel, the discharge channel, the intake basin, the Outer Harbour, Cherry Beach, and the Eastern Gap.
During the first summer, the firm established a baseline by measuring E. coli concentrations before the plant was operational. As expected, these data revealed no direct relationship between E. coli in the discharge channel or the ship channel during pre-operations.
The consulting firm followed this research in 2009 by looking for relationships between E. coli levels and various aspects of the plant operations. This included studying the effects of operational factors, including volume and temperature of the cooling water intake discharge flows. The team also studied how rainfall influenced E. coli concentrations. In the third summer, team members collected daily samples for 22 weeks to research potential associations between E. coli in cooling water effluent and E. coli at Cherry Beach.
Efforts also included measuring E. coli levels throughout the Outer Harbour after significant rainfall events to narrow down the most probable source of E. coli that could potentially impact Cherry Beach. DON RIVERFindings suggested that the Keating Channel running from the Don River, via the Eastern Gap, was the most likely source of E. coli to affect the popular beach.
Monitoring studies found that changes to flow volume and water temperature caused by plant operations did not appear to influence E. coli concentration in the cooling water effluent. Similarly, E. coli levels in the discharge water were generally the same as those in the intake basin. From this they concluded that on its own, discharged water from the plant was unlikely to increase E. coli concentrations at Cherry Beach.
EAKINSThe same could not be said for precipitation. “We saw E. coli concentrations typically spike to 3,600 to 8,700 CFU/100 mL, during the two to seven hours after we received at least 10 millimetres (mm) of rain within a 24-hour period,” explains Robert J. Eakins, an associate and senior fisheries ecologist at EcoMetrix. “Our modelling studies further indicated that when these E. coli levels reach 3,500 CFU/100 mL, they could potentially cause corresponding levels at Cherry Beach to rise above 100 CFU/100 mL.”
CHERRY BEACHMore importantly, in 2011, the team began to test the effectiveness of using a specialized hyper chlorination process to treat the cooling water effluent to reduce E. coli in it. They pumped a small amount of sodium hypochlorite into the effluent, followed by sodium bisulfate to neutralize and reduce chlorine concentrations to levels below 0.01 milligrams per litre before it’s discharged, as specified in the Certificate of Approval. The impact was almost immediate; E. coli levels in the effluent decreased by approximately 90 per cent within five seconds of treatment.
“With these results, we began to ask what steps we could take to treat more than the mandated amount of water we use and create farther reaching benefits,” says Curtis Mahoney, general manager at PEC. “We coordinated with the City of Toronto and the MOE to implement a larger-scale control program to mitigate E. coli that threatens Cherry Beach and help maintain Blue Flag swimming conditions, even during seasonal periods of heavy rainfall.” …
This summer, the team plans to collect hourly samples before, during, and after significant rainfall events to explore potential program refinements, such as shortening the duration of each chlorination treatment.
With PEC’s program and concerted efforts from other organizations, this summer should offer residents and tourists many carefree hours enjoying Toronto’s Cherry Beach.
LESLIE HETHERINGTON

Leslie Hetherington is communications director for Hardy Stevenson and Associates Ltd.