Hello, Madison!

Map of Wisconsin from Google Earth.

The pain of waiting for an answer is over: I’ve been accepted to the University of Wisconsin-Madison to study Land Resources. The bustling capital city is located between two frequently-kayaked and very fishable lakes, Monona and Mendota. The city is sustainable in that biking and walking are the main methods of transportation, and places to eat, live, study, and be entertained are all very close to each other. A highly centralized city like Madison is a great environment for a grad student without a car, such as myself. The average apartment here rents for around $800/month but according to students, the price of living is increasing as people are discovering this secret city. Here are some pictures from the plane, a map of Wisconsin, and the view of the “West Side” from the top of the Atmospheric and Oceanic Sciences (AOS) building at the University. Continue reading

Winter Things

At present, my friends are planning the million ways to spend their tax refunds. I’m here wondering why I decided to volunteer over winter break when I could be basking in the post-tax-refund glory. I might have started off break in bed eating pizza and binge watching all of the new shows on Netflix, but by the end I was hiking up the White Mountains of New Hampshire with visions of frostbitten toes floating around in my head. Continue reading

Blowing Bubbles

Did you know that bubbles can clean water? Specifically, dissolved air flotation (DAF) and ultrasound are two methods of making water safer with bubbles. DAF can be used to replace sedimentation in municipal drinking water treatment. Large particles are typically settled out using gravity, but with DAF, bubbles are produced by an oxygen tank pumping air into the bottom of a basin and small particles attach to the sides of the bubbles. The bubbles rise to the top of the basin and the particles are swept off the surface of the water by a skimmer.

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Dolfi ultrasonic device, photo from Indiegogo.

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How Clean Can UV?

“UV radiation affects microorganisms by altering the DNA in the cells and impeding reproduction. UV treatment does not remove organisms from the water, it merely inactivates them.” – Water Research Center

For the longest time this summer I worked on a machine that performed persulfate-ultraviolet oxidation, but I really had no idea what it was. Looking at the machine, I could see that an oxygen tank and a beaker of persulfate solution were combining with my water samples and traveling through various tiny twisted tubes into a swirl of madness that then shot out in all directions and ended up in a scramble of numbers on the computer screen. So I asked around. Ten weeks of “asking around” later, and still all I knew was that somehow the glowing blue light was breaking down the carbon in my water samples and measuring its concentration.

On the left, persulfate-ultraviolet oxidation. On the right, SteriPEN technology. SteriPEN image found here.

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Illegal Seafoods

lobster in Key Largo

Lobster photo from Florida Weekly.

While this post will have more to do with wildlife than water treatment, it is a topic relevant to the environment and therefore is significant in environmental consciousness. Recently, while traveling to Maine I learned about the history of the waterfront. Native Americans and settlers lived along the Piscataqua river waterfront that serves as a harbor to the Atlantic Ocean. It later became an important location in defending the US from submarine attacks.

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Green Lakes and Pratts Falls

 

At my school, geology is a vastly different subject than environmental engineering. It is a subject that I still have a lot to learn about. Aside from a small fossil collection that has mostly transferred into my algae covered fish tank, I couldn’t tell you much about geology. What I can tell you is that I went to visit the scenic Green Lakes and Pratts Falls on Independence Day weekend. The trail involved a .5 mile hike to Pratts falls. Once there, you can stand across from the falls or stand on a bridge that goes over the top. Like many others, Pratts Falls has been reinforced to prevent any more rock from falling away or receding and to preserve its state. Continue reading