Rainwater Harvesting – Water Tanks for Rainwater Collection

In Australia drought and water conservation are of constant concern. We are a dry continent; in fact we’re the driest inhabited continent on Earth. Every drop of water is precious, and investing in rainwater harvesting is of benefit to both individual households and our nation as a whole.

Rainwater harvesting simply means the collection of rainwater for re-use, instead of allowing it to run off into the ground. The rain water collected has a myriad of uses; gardening, irrigation, water features, livestock, washing, bathing and heating.

With minimal treatment, rainwater can also be used as drinking water, and is just as safe as the water that comes out of your tap. Just as solar power provides free energy, rainwater harvesting provides free water. Not only will it reduce your utility bill, it increases the sustainability of our reservoir and groundwater supplies.  Rainwater harvesting means that you can bypass water restrictions to some extent, using your own supply instead of a limited supply of main water.

Not only is Australia a land of droughts, in many areas floods are a constant concern. Without rainwater harvesting, almost all flood water is wasted as it washes away and becomes contaminated. Not only does rainwater harvesting find use from this abundance of water, it reduces the burden on storm drains and other water safety measures.

Domestically, the most common method of rainwater harvesting are roof catchment systems. Rain that falls on the roof is siphoned off via gutters into a large collection water tank. Hundreds of litres can be stored this way. With proper installation and the right filters, no effort is involved in rainwater collection other than the initial setup, gravity does all the work. Due to their size, roofs can collect an enormous amount of water. In a single story house the surface area of the roof is usually greater than the surface area of the house itself. Based on the average floor space of an Australian house, over 200 litres can be collected during a decent rainfall. Any excess is simply filtered out.

Rainwater collection technology from Alkatuff is constantly developing in order to deliver cleaner and more abundant water to harvesters. “First flush” diverters protects stored water from contaminants, which are most prevalent during the first flush runoff. Highly advanced meshes keep leaves and debris from blocking the gutters. Outlets and valves ensure a steady, stable flow of water.

There is a variety of water tank systems available. While the tanks themselves are fundamentally the same, a variety of inputs and outputs can be used. These can range from a simple gravity tap to an electric pump that delivers water into the house. Gauges can also be installed in order to monitor and regulate water levels.

The advantages and benefits of rainwater harvesting are so numerous that every household can benefit from installing some form of rainwater harvesting system. There are sizes and systems available for every budget, and the amount saved from reducing utility bills should be considered a discount to every purchase.

Forensic Analysis Developments

Mirroring the rapid evolution and ubiquity of technology over the last few decades, advances in technology has made sizeable contributions to the field of forensics. These manifest themselves not as entirely original technologies, but innovations in existing technologies in order to increase effectiveness and reduce costs. Some of these advances include:

Automated Sniffer Dogs

Police dogs such as bloodhounds are a legendary image of policework and forensics, and their ability to identify and track scents have made them invaluable police assets for decades. They are especially useful in the location and identification of cadavers. However they may soon become anachronistic, as Agile Technologies has developed a device that serves the same function with much more accurate readings. The Light-weight Analyzer for Buried Remains and Decomposition Odor Recognition, or LABRADOR for short, is an apparatus made up of 12 sensors that can identify 30 classes of chemicals that are emitted by decaying bodies. Using the visual display, the LABRADOR can identify bodies with a higher accuracy than dogs can, which can be misled by false readings by air and water movement. Operated like a metal detector, a LABRADOR can find a body buried in a 40 acre field to an accuracy of 15 metres. This drastically reduces the time and labour required to locate missing bodies, and removes the cost of raising and caring for specialized police dogs.

Fluorescent Fingerprint Enhancement

Forensic investigation of fingerprints has been a field of study for over 100 years, but improvements and evolutions of the technology are still emerging. The most common issue with fingerprints faced by forensic investigators are fingerprints that don’t have enough contrast or definition to give an accurate reading. To improve results, forensic scientists fume fingerprints with chemical compounds, most commonly cyanoacrylate (Super Glue). However, on a light coloured surface the fingerprint can still be too indistinct to take an effective photograph.

Until now, the solution has been to apply a second coat of a fluorescent chemical. However, these chemicals are toxic and must be applied in a controlled environment, which drastically increases the time and cost of a forensic investigation. There is also the inherent risk that this sequence will degrade and compromise a DNA reading. For three decades, research chemists have been trying to develop a safer, cheaper alternative. Developed by the French Laboratory of Supramolecular Photochemistry and the firm Crime Scene Technology, Lumicyano is a safe, inexpensive chemical innovation that benefits one of the most common methods of forensic investigation. Working as both a fluorescent and an adhesive, Lumicyano allows more accurate reading of fingerprints in a fraction of the time, using a basic UV light.

Forensic Glass Analysis

Laser Ablation Inductively Coupled Plasma Mass Spectrometry, or LA-ICP-MS for short, is in innovation in using broken glass as a forensic tool. While it may seem obscure, broken glass is often present in incidents such as burglaries and car accidents. By analyzing samples of broken glass at a crime scene, forensic scientists can establish such factors as the direction of a gunshot, tools used in a robbery or direction of an impact. With LA-ICP-MS, tiny trace samples of glass on skin and clothing can be traced back to broken windows at a crime scene, in a similar fashion to DNA evidence. LA-ICP-MS can break down glass samples to an atomic level, meaning that there is no limit to the size of sample used.

High-Speed Ballistics Photography

The refinement of high-speed digital cameras means that advanced camera forensics are now an easily accessible tool to forensic departments. High-speed cameras are used to test and match projectile trajectory, impacts and exit wounds and can be repeated at a low cost in order to establish a match with absolute certainty.

DNA Sequencing

The use of DNA in forensic analysis has been by far the greatest innovation in forensics of the last few decades. However it is not perfect, as DNA can degrade and some forms of samples leave gaps in necessary information. DNA testing is also a lengthy process, and can extend investigations by weeks or even months. DNA sequencers not only allow more comprehensive readings of DNA, the automation involved means that the labour involved is decreased by orders of magnitude.