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  • richardmitnick 7:51 am on April 6, 2015 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , Clean Water, ,   

    From NOVA: “Silver Nanoparticles Could Give Millions Microbe-free Drinking Water” 

    PBS NOVA

    NOVA

    24 Mar 2015
    Cara Giaimo

    1
    Microbe-free drinking water is hard to come by in many areas of India.

    Chemists at the Indian Institute of Technology Madras have developed a portable, inexpensive water filtration system that is twice as efficient as existing filters. The filter doubles the well-known and oft-exploited antimicrobial effects of silver by employing nanotechnology. The team, led by Professor Thalappil Pradeep, plans to use it to bring clean water to underserved populations in India and beyond.

    Left alone, most water is teeming with scary things. A recent study showed that your average glass of West Bengali drinking water might contain E. coli, rotavirus, cryptosporidium, and arsenic. According to the World Health Organization, nearly a billion people worldwide lack access to clean water, and about 80% of illnesses in the developing world are water-related. India in particular has 16% of the world’s population and less than 3% of its fresh water supply. Ten percent of India’s population lacks water access, and every day about 1,600 people die of diarrhea, which is caused by waterborne microbes.

    Pradeep has spent over a decade using nanomaterials to chemically sift these pollutants out. He started by tackling endosulfan, a pesticide that was hugely popular until scientists determined that it destroyed ozone and brain cells in addition to its intended insect targets. Endosulfan is now banned in most places, but leftovers persist in dangerous amounts. After a bout of endosulfan poisoning in the southwest region of Kerala, Pradeep and his colleagues developed a drinking water filter that breaks the toxin down into harmless components. They licensed the design to a filtration company, who took it to market in 2007. It was “the first nano-chemistry based water product in the world,” he says.

    But Pradeep wanted to go bigger. “If pesticides can be removed by nanomaterials,” he remembers thinking, “can you also remove microbes without causing additional toxicity?” For this, Pradeep’s team put a new twist on a tried-and-true element: silver.

    Silver’s microbe-killing properties aren’t news—in fact, people have known about them for centuries, says Dr. David Barillo, a trauma surgeon and the editor of a recent silver-themed supplement of the journal Burns.

    “Alexander the Great stored and drank water in silver vessels when going on campaigns” in 335 BC, he says, and 19th century frontier-storming Americans dropped silver coins into their water barrels to suppress algae growth. During the space race, America and the Soviet Union both developed silver-based water purification techniques (NASA’s was “basically a silver wire sticking in the middle of a pipe that they were passing electricity through,” Barillo says). And new applications keep popping up: Barillo himself pioneered the use of silver-infused dressings to treat wounded soldiers in Afghanistan. “We’ve really run the gamut—we’ve gone from 300 BC to present day, and we’re still using it for the same stuff,” he says.

    No one knows exactly how small amounts of silver are able to kill huge swaths of microbes. According to Barillo, it’s probably a combination of attacks on the microbe’s enzymes, cell wall, and DNA, along with the buildup of silver free radicals, which are studded with unpaired electrons that gum up cellular systems. These microbe-mutilating strategies are so effective that they obscure our ability to study them, because we have nothing to compare them to. “It’s difficult to make something silver-resistant, even in the lab where you’re doing it intentionally,” Barillo says.

    But unlike equal-opportunity killers like endosulfan, silver knocks out the monsters and leaves the good guys alone. In low concentrations, it’s virtually harmless to humans. “It’s not a carcinogen, it’s not a mutagen, it’s not an allergen,” Barillo says. “It seems to have no purpose in human physiology—it’s not a metal that we need to have in our bodies like copper or magnesium. But it doesn’t seem to do anything bad either.”

    Though silver’s mysterious germ-killing properties are old news, Pradeep is taking advantage of them in new ways. The particles his team works with are less than 50 nanometers long on any one side—about four times smaller than the smallest bacteria. Working at this level allows him greater control over desired chemical reactions, and the ability to fine-tune his filters to improve efficiency or add specific effects. Two years ago, his team developed their biggest hit yet—a combination filter that kills microbes with silver and breaks down chemical toxins with other nanoparticles. It’s portable, works at room temperature, and doesn’t require electricity. Pradeep is working with the government to make these filters available to underserved communities. Currently 100,000 households have them; “by next year’s end,” he hopes, “it will reach 600,000 people.”

    The latest filter goes one better: it “tunes” the silver with carbonate, a negatively-charged ion that strips protective proteins from microbe cell membranes. This leaves the microbes even more vulnerable to silver’s attack. “In the presence of carbonate, silver is even more effective,” he explains, so he can use less of it: “Fifty parts per billion can be brought down to [25].” Unlike the earlier filter, this one kills viruses, too—good news, since according to the National Institute of Virology, most do not.

    Going from 50 parts per billion of silver to 25 may not seem like a huge leap. But for Pradeep—who aims to help a lot of people for a long time—every little bit counts. Filters that contain less silver are less expensive to produce. This is vital if you want to keep costs low enough for those who need them most to buy them, or to entice the government into giving them away. He estimates that one of his new filter units will cost about $2 per year, proportionately less than what the average American pays for water.

    Using less silver also improves sustainability. “Globally, silver is the most heavily used nanomaterial,” Pradeep says, and it’s not renewable: anything we use “is lost for the world.” If all filters used his carbonate trick, he points out, we could make twice as many of them before we run out of raw materials—and even more if, as he hopes, his future tunings bring the necessary amount down further. This will become especially important if his filters catch on in other places with no infrastructure and needy populations. “Ultimately, I want to use the very minimum quantity of silver,” he says.

    “Pradeep’s work shows enormous potential,” says Dr. Theresa Dankovich, a water filtration expert at the University of Virginia’s Center for Global Health. But, she points out, “carbonate anions are naturally occurring in groundwater and surface waters,” so “it warrants further study to determine how they are already enhancing the effect of silver ions and silver nanoparticles,” even without purposeful manipulation by chemists. Others see potential shortcomings. James Smith, a professor of environmental engineering at the University of Virginia and the inventor of a nanoparticle-coated clay filtering pot, worries that the nanotech-heavy production process “would not allow for manufacturing in a developing world setting,” especially if Pradeep’s continuous tweaking of the model deters large-scale companies from actually producing it.

    Nevertheless, Pradeep plans to continue scaling up. “If you can provide clean water, you have provided a solution for almost everything,” he says. When you have the lessons of history and the technology of the future, why settle for anything less?

    See the full article here.

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    NOVA is the highest rated science series on television and the most watched documentary series on public television. It is also one of television’s most acclaimed series, having won every major television award, most of them many times over.

     
  • richardmitnick 1:58 pm on March 12, 2015 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , Clean Water,   

    From U Chicago: “Institute for Molecular Engineering pursues six water research projects” 

    U Chicago bloc

    University of Chicago

    March 11, 2015
    Carla Reiter

    1

    The Water Research Initiative of the Institute for Molecular Engineering has added a sixth research project to the original five that received funding last year.

    The six projects are for research on new materials and methods to make clean water more accessible and less expensive. These seed projects involve physicists, chemists, geoscientists, environmentalists and molecular engineers working in collaborations involving scientists at the University of Chicago, Argonne National Laboratory and Ben-Gurion University of the Negev in Israel.

    “The concept was to focus initially on scientific and technical matters: applying chemistry and nano-materials to issues pertaining to water purification and sustainability,” said Steven Sibener, initiative director and the Carl William Eisendrath Distinguished Service Professor in Chemistry and the James Franck Institute.

    Scientists can engineer nano-materials—structures built from ensembles of molecules or atoms on a scale 10 to 50 times larger than that of single molecules—so that they can be “tuned” to meet the demands of a particular task. One such objective is water filtration.

    Current filtration methods use membranes to remove salts and minerals from water. “But as a result of human activity, water is contaminated by harmful organic materials and micro-organisms and these are not removed by present membrane technology,” said Moshe Gottlieb, who heads the Ben-Gurion University arm of the initiative.

    Mathematically modeling patterns

    The newest project, involving Argonne and BGU, will benefit agriculture, green roofs, bioswales and engineered installations for storm water management. The project builds on the work of BGU scientists, who have developed a mathematical model that accurately represents patterns of plant and root growth under desert water conditions.

    Project scientists aim to expand this model for application to environments that contain two major vegetation types, such as woody plants and trees, or shrubs and grasses. The BGU model was developed in Israel’s Negev Desert, but it might also prove useful in more temperate environments. Chicago’s green roofs, for example, also experience water scarcity.

    “The city leads the country in developing green roofs, which are really good for mitigating storm water,” said M. Cristina Negri, an agronomist and environmental engineer at Argonne. Plants on green roofs need to adapt to suboptimal conditions because they live in thin soils, which are unable to retain much water during dry spells.

    One of the original water research initiative projects uses a novel technique to make membranes that will not only filter harmful biological species from water, but also chemically cleanse it of toxins. Researchers grow a polymer film made of two materials. By manipulating the tendency of molecules to organize themselves into stable structures, the scientists get the film to “build itself” along the lines that they desire. The result is a web of specifically sized cylinders made of one component embedded in a matrix of another.

    They expose this polymer to a third constituent that interacts only with the matrix, turning it into titanium dioxide. Finally, they remove the cylinders chemically, leaving a titanium dioxide mesh with cylindrical pores sized perfectly for the filtering job at hand. When modified slightly and exposed to light, titanium dioxide can break down toxic substances such as phenols. The resulting membrane is not only a physical filter, but a water purifier as well.

    Another project also exploits catalytic reactions to create a high-efficiency purifier, this time on the surfaces of nano-structured membranes. A large fraction of the molecules in a nano-structure lie at the surface, where they can interact chemically with whatever is around them. The researchers are designing large-surface-area nano-membranes whose surfaces can catalyze reactions with toxins in water, breaking them down and rendering them harmless. These nano-membranes could be used, for example, to remove trace pharmaceuticals from the waste stream.

    Clog-resistant filters

    One of the biggest problems faced when filtering water is the colonies of microorganisms that grow on a filter’s surfaces. They form a tough, slimy film that clogs the membrane’s pores and make it useless. This means frequent and costly replacement. “Bio-fouling is one of these critical show-stopping issues,” Sibener said. Two of the seed projects explore ways of solving this problem.

    The first aims to understand the structure of the microbial communities. The scientists will sequence the genomes of the biofilms and then study how they grow and interact with one another. And, crucially, they will see what happens to that growth when one changes the texture or the material of a membrane surface, providing a guide for developing membranes that are inherently resistant to bio-fouling.

    The second group is creating and examining the properties of a series of polymer “brushes,” which can be used as membrane coatings. These are clusters of polymer chains in which one end of each chain is fixed to a surface—a membrane, for example—and the rest of the chain is free, creating a brush-like structure. When the “bristles” are dense, bacteria have a harder time penetrating the brush and growing on the membrane surface.

    Before water can be used, purified or re-used, it has to be available in the first place. The final collaboration is developing an innovative method for tracking groundwater flow so that the size and characteristics of an aquifer can be evaluated and exploited in a sustainable way.

    Scientists will use a laser device called ATTA-3 to count the number of krypton radio-isotopes: an inert noble gas, present in water samples taken from a series of wells. The concentration of krypton isotopes found in surface water decays when the water goes underground. Krypton’s rate of decay and its abundance in surface water are known. So, the concentration of isotopes in a well-water sample tells scientists how long the water has been underground. They can then determine the chronological connectivity from the oldest samples to younger ones, from well to well, making a map of the water flow in the aquifer.

    These six projects were chosen from among the many proposals because of their inherent scientific excellence coupled with their tight focus on issues critical to developing water resources. But also, Sibener said, because they take advantage of the complementary strengths of the three participating institutions: “These projects all require a true partnership among the collaborating teams, allowing them to address critical issues that no single investigator has done or could do alone.”

    See the full article here.

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    U Chicago Campus

    An intellectual destination

    One of the world’s premier academic and research institutions, the University of Chicago has driven new ways of thinking since our 1890 founding. Today, UChicago is an intellectual destination that draws inspired scholars to our Hyde Park and international campuses, keeping UChicago at the nexus of ideas that challenge and change the world.

     
  • richardmitnick 7:25 pm on January 31, 2013 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , Clean Water, ,   

    From SLAC: “Synchrotrons Explore Water’s Molecular Mysteries” 

    Glenn Roberts Jr.
    January 31, 2013

    In experiments at SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory and Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, scientists observed a surprisingly dense form of water that remained liquid well beyond its typical freezing point.

    droplets
    Illustration of the first layer of a thin film of water on a barium fluoride crystal surface, showing that the water sample exists in an unexpected, high-density liquid form, with chain-like molecular formations resembling low-density crystalline ice. (Credit: Nature Scientific Reports)

    Researchers applied a superthin coating of water – no deeper than a few molecules – to the surface of a barium fluoride crystal.

    This surface was expected to stimulate ice formation, but even when chilled to a temperature of about 6.5 degrees Fahrenheit – well below water’s normal freezing point – the water remained liquid.

    Further, the molecular structure of the water on the crystal surface unexpectedly transformed to a high-density form in a broad temperature range, mimicking the density water achieves when pressure is applied.

    The research, published Jan. 15 in Nature Scientific Reports, spanned more than three years and included experiments at SLAC’s Stanford Synchrotron Radiation Lightsource and Berkeley Lab’s Advanced Light Source synchrotrons, as well as computer simulations by collaborators in Sweden.

    The work represents a milestone in understanding some of the many exotic properties water exhibits under a range of conditions, said Anders Nilsson, one of the lead authors. He is deputy director of the SUNCAT Center for Interface Science and Catalysis, a Stanford/SLAC institute, and a professor of photon science at SLAC.

    Understanding the effect that certain materials have on water at the molecular scale may help scientists design materials that ‘can steer the water structure and properties,’ he said.

    ‘This can lead to the design of new membranes for water purification,’ Nilsson said. ‘Access to clean water will be the next crisis in the world after energy, and maybe even become more challenging.”

    See the full article here.

    SLAC Campus

    SLAC is a multi-program laboratory exploring frontier questions in photon science, astrophysics, particle physics and accelerator research. Located in Menlo Park, California, SLAC is operated by Stanford University for the DOE’s Office of Science.
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  • richardmitnick 5:17 pm on August 17, 2012 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , Clean Water, , Computing For Clean Water (C4CW), , ,   

    From Computing For Clean Water at WCG Status Update 

    World Community Grid (WCG) brings people together from across the globe to create the largest non-profit computing grid benefiting humanity. It does this by pooling surplus computer processing power. We believe that innovation combined with visionary scientific research and large-scale volunteerism can help make the planet smarter. Our success depends on like-minded individuals – like you.”

    “The Computing for Clean Water (C4CW) project has returned over 90 million results!”

    Mission
    The mission of Computing for Clean Water is to provide deeper insight on the molecular scale into the origins of the efficient flow of water through a novel class of filter materials. This insight will in turn guide future development of low-cost and more efficient water filters.

    Significance
    Lack of access to clean water is one of the major humanitarian challenges for many regions in the developing world. It is estimated that 1.2 billion people lack access to safe drinking water, and 2.6 billion have little or no sanitation. Millions of people die annually – estimates are 3,900 children a day – from the results of diseases transmitted through unsafe water, in particular diarrhea.

    Technologies for filtering dirty water exist, but are generally quite expensive. Desalination of sea water, a potentially abundant source of drinking water, is similarly limited by filtering costs. Therefore, new approaches to efficient water filtering are a subject of intense research. Carbon nanotubes, stacked in arrays so that water must pass through the length of the tubes, represent a new approach to filtering water.

    Approach
    Normally, the extremely small pore size of nanotubes, typically only a few water molecules in diameter, would require very large pressures and hence expensive equipment in order to filter useful amounts of water. However, in 2005 experiments showed that such arrays of nanotubes allow water to flow at much higher rates than expected. This surprising result has spurred many scientists to invest considerable effort in studying the underlying processes that facilitate water flow in nanotubes.

    This project uses large-scale molecular dynamics calculations – where the motions of individual water molecules through the nanotubes are simulated – in order to get a deeper understanding of the mechanism of water flow in the nanotubes. For example, there has been speculation about whether the water molecules in direct contact with the nanotube might behave more like ice. This in turn might reduce the friction felt by the rest of the water, hence increasing the rate of flow. Realistic computer simulations are one way to test such hypotheses.

    Ultimately, the scientists hope to use the insights they glean from the simulations in order to optimize the underlying process that is enabling water to flow much more rapidly through nanotubes and other nanoporous materials. This optimization process will allow water to flow even more easily, while retaining sources of contamination. The simulations may also reveal under what conditions such filters can best assist in a desalination process.”

    C4CF had its origin in the Center for Nano and Micro Mechanics at Tsinghua University, Beijing, China

    From CNMM

    “The Computing for Clean Water (C4CW) project is a joint project between CNMM and several international research institutions [The University of Sydney, Monash University, The National Centre of Nanoscience and Technology, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Institute of High Energy Physics, The Citizen Cyberscience Centre, with the support of IBM’s World Community Grid, and thousands of volunteers.

    The team at CNMM is investigating how water flows in nanotubes, using a computer-based simulation technique known as molecular dynamics. The ultimate goal of this research is deeper insight into how nanotubes and other porous nanomaterials can be used to build a new generation of cheap water filters, to alleviate the pressing demand for clean water in large parts of China and many other parts of the developing world.

    To do these simulations with the sort of accuracy we need takes a lot of computing power, far more than is accessible to us currently. Volunteers provide this computing power by allowing some simulations to run using the idle time of the processor chips in their laptops and PCs, for example while they are writing emails or surfing the web. Indeed, when doing these common tasks, the processor is idle often more than 90% of the time, and using some of that idle time turns out to be energetically very efficient, since it only adds a few percent extra power to what the computer would otherwise consume.

    The results from each simulation, when combined together statistically for millions of runs, help us create a pool of necessary data that can be analyzed to understand why recent experiments show that water flows much more easily in nanotubes than standard hydrodynamical considerations would normally lead us to believe. Understanding this process is a first step to optimizing it for practical purposes, in particular to make cheaper filters that do not require so much pressue to filter water through them.
    This is an exciting project, but it is also complicated and will run over some time. World Community Grid enables scientists and volunteers to co-operate in a very simple and powerful way. We are grateful for the continuing support of every one of our volunteers and will post our progress here to keep you updated.”

    WCG projects run on BOINC software from UC Berkeley.

    BOINC is a leader in the field(s) of Distributed Computing, Grid Computing and Citizen Cyberscience.BOINC is more properly the Berkeley Open Infrastructure for Network Computing.

    CAN ONE PERSON MAKE A DIFFERENCE? YOU BETCHA!!

    “Download and install secure, free software that captures your computer’s spare power when it is on, but idle. You will then be a World Community Grid volunteer. It’s that simple!” You can download the software at either WCG or BOINC.

    Please visit the project pages-

    Say No to Schistosoma
    sch

    GO Fight Against Malaria
    mal

    Drug Search for Leishmaniasis
    lish

    Computing for Clean Water
    c4cw

    The Clean Energy Project
    cep2

    Discovering Dengue Drugs – Together
    dengue

    Help Cure Muscular Dystrophy
    md

    Help Fight Childhood Cancer
    hccf

    Help Conquer Cancer
    hcc

    Human Proteome Folding
    hpf

    FightAIDS@Home
    faah

    Computing for Sustainable Water

    World Community Grid is a social initiative of IBM Corporation
    IBM Corporation
    ibm

    IBM – Smarter Planet
    sp


    ScienceSprings is powered by MAINGEAR computers

     
    • richardmitnick 12:16 pm on September 5, 2012 Permalink | Reply

      Jefferson- Thanks for the vote of confidence. WCG projects are direct ed at immediate problems for life around the globe.

      Like

  • richardmitnick 6:10 pm on August 6, 2012 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , Clean Water,   

    From Livermore Labs: “New desalination technique uses flow-through electrodes for faster desalination and lower cost” 


    Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory

    08/03/2012
    Anne M Stark

    Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory researchers have developed a new capacitive desalination technique that could ultimately lower the cost and time of desalinating seawater.

    image
    Flow-through electrode capacitive desalination uses a new hierarchical porous carbon material to create a new device geometry in which the feed stream passes directly through the electrodes, resulting in significant improvements to salt removal and desalination rate.

    The new technique, called flow-through electrode capacitive desalination (FTE CD), uses new porous carbon materials with a hierarchical pore structure, which allows the saltwater to easily flow through the electrodes themselves.

    ‘By leveraging innovative porous carbon materials recently developed at LLNL, our new method removes the diffusion limitations afflicting traditional CD cells. The desalination process now only takes as long as it takes to charge the electrodes, on the order of minutes or less,’ said Matthew Suss, a Lawrence scholar and first author of a recent paper in Energy & Environmental Science. ‘The new method currently removes salt five to 10 times faster than previous CD systems, and can be further optimized for increased speed. It also reduces the concentration of the feed up to three times as much per charge.'”

    See the full article here.

    Operated by Lawrence Livermore National Security, LLC, for the Department of Energy’s National Nuclear Security
    Administration

    i2

     
  • richardmitnick 3:17 am on April 21, 2012 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , Clean Water, ,   

    BOINC Announces a New Project at WCG: Computing for Sustainable Water 

    “The Computing for Sustainable Water (CFSW) project is one of three water-related projects selected to run on the IBM World Community Grid. This project evolved from the UVa Bay Game as a very detailed, simulation-only model of the Chesapeake Bay. Not a game, the CFSW model simulates over 34,000 spatial areas; 1,069 river and stream segments; and 4 million households over a 20-year period on a monthly basis. The model explores the potential outcomes of various practices (“Best Management Practices”) on the nutrient loads reaching and impacting Bay health.

    The CFSW project launched publicly on April 17, 2012 and is available for execution on the World Community Grid…

    Mission
    The mission of the Computing for Sustainable Water project is to study the effects of human activity on a large watershed and gain deeper insights into what actions can lead to restoration, health and sustainability of this important water resource. The extensive computing power of World Community Grid will be used to perform millions of computer simulations to better understand the effects that result from a variety of human activity patterns in the Chesapeake Bay area. The researchers hope to be able to apply what is learned from this project across the globe to other regions which face challenges of sustainable water.

    Significance
    Water is the most abundant resource on Earth, yet the world faces many challenging water-related problems. Among them is the management of its freshwater resources. More than 1.2 billion people lack access to clean, safe water. This problem is becoming more critical in the world as the proportion of people living in dense urban environments rises. The resulting demands for water contend with increasing human activities which degrade the quality of available water. A complex set of interrelated forces makes the problem difficult to address, much less to solve effectively via coordinated policy.

    Approach
    The University of Virginia developed a participatory simulation model of the Chesapeake Bay, the UVa Bay Game® (www.virginia.edu/baygame), incorporating natural elements and human activity using game players representing crop farmers, land developers, watermen, and assorted regulators. The UVa Bay Game has been successful in providing a learning platform for conveying the issues of complex watershed behavior and management. But to better understand the complex natural and human dynamics at work in this complex system, a much more detailed simulation model was developed to run on World Community Grid. Each of many millions of computer simulations, using unique combinations of a wide variety of assumptions about the natural and human actions at play, will calculate the resulting effects on the watershed. Exploring these many results, the researchers expect to develop insight into how these assumptions affect the overall health of the Chesapeake Bay. With these insights, the researchers will be able to better inform policy makers and suggest how prudent actions can lead to water restoration and sustainability. The ultimate goal is to eventually apply this knowledge and the techniques learned with the Computing for Sustainable Water project to other watersheds around the world.”

    BOINC is a leader in the field(s) of Distributed Computing, Grid Computing and Citizen Cyberscience.BOINC is more properly the Berkeley Open Infrastructure for Network Computing, developed at UC Berkeley.

    Visit the BOINC web page, click on Choose projects and check out some of the very worthwhile studies you will find. Then click on Download and run BOINC software/ All Versons. Download and install the current software for your 32bit or 64bit system, for Windows, Mac or Linux. When you install BOINC, it will install its screen savers on your system as a default. You can choose to run the various project screen savers or you can turn them off. Once BOINC is installed, in BOINC Manager/Tools, click on “Add project or account manager” to attach to projects. Many BOINC projects are listed there, but not all, and, maybe not the one(s) in which you are interested. You can get the proper URL for attaching to the project at the projects’ web page(s) BOINC will never interfere with any other work on your computer.

    MAJOR PROJECTS RUNNING ON BOINC SOFTWARE

    SETI@home The search for extraterrestrial intelligence. “SETI (Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence) is a scientific area whose goal is to detect intelligent life outside Earth. One approach, known as radio SETI, uses radio telescopes to listen for narrow-bandwidth radio signals from space. Such signals are not known to occur naturally, so a detection would provide evidence of extraterrestrial technology.

    Radio telescope signals consist primarily of noise (from celestial sources and the receiver’s electronics) and man-made signals such as TV stations, radar, and satellites. Modern radio SETI projects analyze the data digitally. More computing power enables searches to cover greater frequency ranges with more sensitivity. Radio SETI, therefore, has an insatiable appetite for computing power.

    Previous radio SETI projects have used special-purpose supercomputers, located at the telescope, to do the bulk of the data analysis. In 1995, David Gedye proposed doing radio SETI using a virtual supercomputer composed of large numbers of Internet-connected computers, and he organized the SETI@home project to explore this idea. SETI@home was originally launched in May 1999.”


    SETI@home is the birthplace of BOINC software. Originally, it only ran in a screensaver when the computer on which it was installed was doing no other work. With the powerand memory available today, BOINC can run 24/7 without in any way interfering with other ongoing work.

    seti
    The famous SET@home screen saver, a beauteous thing to behold.

    einstein@home The search for pulsars. “Einstein@Home uses your computer’s idle time to search for weak astrophysical signals from spinning neutron stars (also called pulsars) using data from the LIGO gravitational-wave detectors, the Arecibo radio telescope, and the Fermi gamma-ray satellite. Einstein@Home volunteers have already discovered more than a dozen new neutron stars, and we hope to find many more in the future. Our long-term goal is to make the first direct detections of gravitational-wave emission from spinning neutron stars. Gravitational waves were predicted by Albert Einstein almost a century ago, but have never been directly detected. Such observations would open up a new window on the universe, and usher in a new era in astronomy.”

    MilkyWay@Home Milkyway@Home uses the BOINC platform to harness volunteered computing resources, creating a highly accurate three dimensional model of the Milky Way galaxy using data gathered by the Sloan Digital Sky Survey. This project enables research in both astroinformatics and computer science.”

    Leiden Classical “Join in and help to build a Desktop Computer Grid dedicated to general Classical Dynamics for any scientist or science student!”

    World Community Grid (WCG) World Community Grid is a special case at BOINC. WCG is part of the social initiative of IBM Corporation and the Smarter Planet. WCG has under its umbrella currently eleven disparate projects at globally wide ranging institutions and universities. Most projects relate to biological and medical subject matter. There are also projects for Clean Water and Clean Renewable Energy. WCG projects are treated respectively and respectably on their own at this blog. Watch for news.

    Rosetta@home “Rosetta@home needs your help to determine the 3-dimensional shapes of proteins in research that may ultimately lead to finding cures for some major human diseases. By running the Rosetta program on your computer while you don’t need it you will help us speed up and extend our research in ways we couldn’t possibly attempt without your help. You will also be helping our efforts at designing new proteins to fight diseases such as HIV, Malaria, Cancer, and Alzheimer’s….”

    GPUGrid.net “GPUGRID.net is a distributed computing infrastructure devoted to biomedical research. Thanks to the contribution of volunteers, GPUGRID scientists can perform molecular simulations to understand the function of proteins in health and disease.” GPUGrid is a special case in that all processor work done by the volunteers is GPU processing. There is no CPU processing, which is the more common processing. Other projects (Einstein, SETI, Milky Way) also feature GPU processing, but they offer CPU processing for those not able to do work on GPU’s.

    These projects are just the oldest and most prominent projects. There are many others from which you can choose.

    There are currently some 300,000 users with about 480,000 computers working on BOINC projects That is in a world of over one billion computers. We sure could use your help.

     
  • richardmitnick 8:02 am on April 14, 2012 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , Clean Water, , ,   

    New Project at WCG: “Computing for Sustainable Water” 

    Computing for Sustainable Water

    The Computing for Sustainable Water (CFSW) project is one of three water-related projects selected to run on the IBM World Community Grid. This project evolved from the UVa Bay Game as a very detailed, simulation-only model of the Chesapeake Bay. Not a game, the CFSW model simulates over 34,000 spatial areas; 1,069 river and stream segments; and 4 million households over a 20-year period on a monthly basis. The model explores the potential outcomes of various practices (“Best Management Practices”) on the nutrient loads reaching and impacting Bay health.

    The CFSW project will launch publicly on April 16, 2012 and will be available for execution on the World Community Grid, a network of nearly 2 million contributed computers [Currently 95,000 active users]. The model runs in the background of these volunteered computers using otherwise idle cycles and not interfering with the owner’s applications. There will be over 1.3 million experiments[work umits] distributed to computers on the World Community Grid, each requiring approximately 7 hours of computing time. If this work were done on the UVa Cross-Campus Computing Grid (XCG), it would take about 90 years to complete; with the power of the IBM World Community Grid, it will require less than one year.

    World Community Grid (WCG) brings people together from across the globe to create the largest non-profit computing grid benefiting humanity. It does this by pooling surplus computer processing power. We believe that innovation combined with visionary scientific research and large-scale volunteerism can help make the planet smarter. Our success depends on like-minded individuals – like you.”

    WCG projects run on BOINC software from UC Berkeley.

    BOINC is a leader in the field(s) of Distributed Computing, Grid Computing and Citizen Cyberscience.BOINC is more properly the Berkeley Open Infrastructure for Network Computing.
    CAN ONE PERSON MAKE A DIFFERENCE? YOU BETCHA!!

    “Download and install secure, free software that captures your computer’s spare power when it is on, but idle. You will then be a World Community Grid volunteer. It’s that simple!” You can download the software at either WCG or BOINC.

    Please visit the project pages-

    Say No to Schistosoma
    sch

    GO Fight Against Malaria
    mal

    Drug Search for Leishmaniasis
    lish

    Computing for Clean Water
    c4cw

    The Clean Energy Project
    cep2

    Discovering Dengue Drugs – Together
    dengue

    Help Cure Muscular Dystrophy
    md

    Help Fight Childhood Cancer
    hccf

    Help Conquer Cancer
    hcc

    Human Proteome Folding
    hpf

    FightAIDS@Home
    faah

    World Community Grid is a social initiative of IBM Corporation
    IBM Corporation
    ibm

    IBM – Smarter Planet
    sp

     
  • richardmitnick 2:49 pm on November 18, 2011 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , , , , Clean Water,   

    From the WCG Clean Energy Project at Harvard 

    Take a look at the video, get excited, go to World Community Grid (WCG), sign up, download the BOINC software agent, and attach to this terrific project and any others about which you are enthusiastic. We have projects in AIDS, Cancer, Malaria(new), Leishmaniasis, Clean Water, Dengue Fever, Muscular Dystrophy.

    You can also visit BOINC, view the projects running the software that are not tied to WCG, and lend a hand.

    When you view the video, discount the business about only running when your screen saver is running. That is a long time ago. The BOINC software runs all of the time; but the project work never interferes with your normal computing activities.

    All of BOINC is pretty impressive. We are currently at 6.34 PetaFLOPS of computation. That is bigger than almost all of the supercomputers in the world today.

     
  • richardmitnick 12:33 pm on June 23, 2011 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , Clean Water, , ,   

    From CNN Money: “A supercomputer made of unused PCs” 

    i1

    David Goldman
    June 23, 2011

    “Buying a supercomputer costs millions of dollars, then thousands more each year to maintain it. That’s not to mention the hefty electric bill to keep the massive system running.

    So it goes without saying that average Joes can’t just get themselves a supercomputer. But many scientific researchers also don’t have access to them, even if they work at a university that owns one…But if you link millions of ordinary PCs together and split the calculations across them, you get a virtual supercomputer. That’s exactly what some people are doing…Multiplied a thousand or even million times, the combined processing power of all of those PCs is formidable.

    The concept is called volunteer grid computing, and it’s being used by projects like World Community Grid (WCG).

    SETI@home is perhaps the most well-known of the projects. It was set up by University of Berkeley researchers in 1999 with the goal of finding radio signals indicative of intelligent life outside of Earth.

    Folding@home is a Stanford project for researching protein folds, and Einstein@home is a Max Planck Institute research program to study gravitational waves. Of the university projects, Folding@home is the largest, with about 350,000 donated PCs.”

    The article does severely overstate the size of WCG. Active users are about 98,000 “crunchers”. You can visit the WCG page at BOINCStats to see the current statistics.

    Also, the article does not mention that the software on which WCG runs originated at the Space Science Labs, UC Berkeley, being birthed out of the afore mentioned seti@home project.

    Suffice it to say we are at 240 TeraFLOPS at WCG, which is pretty darn big. But, even our 98,000 “crunchers” and 195,000 machines is a drop in the bucket of over a billion computers in the world. Please visit the WCG web site and look at the projects in AIDS, Cancer, Dengue Fever, Clean Energy, Clean Water, and the Human Proteome Project. With very little effort, you could help on any or all with your unused CPU cycles.

    See the full article here.

     
  • richardmitnick 4:06 pm on April 10, 2011 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , , Clean Water, , , , ,   

    WCG: An Overview 

    World Community Grid

    WCG tells us: “World Community Grid brings people together from across the globe to create the largest non-profit computing grid benefiting humanity. It does this by pooling surplus computer processing power. We believe that innovation combined with visionary scientific research and large-scale volunteerism can help make the planet smarter. Our success depends on like-minded individuals – like you.”

    “We are now partnering with People for a Smarter Planet, a collective of communities that let you make a personal difference in solving some of the world’s toughest challenges. Please show your support by clicking the Like button on their Facebook page.

    i1

    World Community Grid operates under the watchful eye and with the financial support of IBM Corporation.

    ibm

    Here is what IBM says: “Our World Community Grid initiative utilizes grid computing technology to harness the tremendous power of idle computers to perform specific computations related to critical research around complex biological, environmental and health-related issues. The current projects include Help Fight Childhood Cancer, Clean Energy, and Nutritious Rice for the World, FightAIDS@Home, Help Conquer Cancer, AfricanClimate@Home, and a genomics initiative and research on Dengue Fever.

    Lets look at some of these projects. All of the text for each project comes from the project’s page at WCG.

    Computing for Clean Water

    cw

    Mission
    The mission of Computing for Clean Water is to provide deeper insight on the molecular scale into the origins of the efficient flow of water through a novel class of filter materials. This insight will in turn guide future development of low-cost and more efficient water filters.

    Significance
    Lack of access to clean water is one of the major humanitarian challenges for many regions in the developing world. It is estimated that 1.2 billion people lack access to safe drinking water, and 2.6 billion have little or no sanitation. Millions of people die annually – estimates are 3,900 children a day – from the results of diseases transmitted through unsafe water, in particular diarrhea.

    Technologies for filtering dirty water exist, but are generally quite expensive. Desalination of sea water, a potentially abundant source of drinking water, is similarly limited by filtering costs. Therefore, new approaches to efficient water filtering are a subject of intense research. Carbon nanotubes, stacked in arrays so that water must pass through the length of the tubes, represent a new approach to filtering water.”

    This projects partners with CNMM, the Center for Nano and Micro Mechanics at Tsinghua University in Beijing, China

    cnmm

    The Clean Energy Project

    ce

    Mission
    The mission of The Clean Energy Project is to find new materials for the next generation of solar cells and later, energy storage devices. By harnessing the immense power of World Community Grid, researchers can calculate the electronic properties of hundreds of thousands of organic materials – thousands of times more than could ever be tested in a lab – and determine which candidates are most promising for developing affordable solar energy technology.

    Significance
    We are living in the Age of Energy. The fossil fuel based economy of the present must give way to the renewable energy based economy of the future, but getting there is one of the greatest challenge humanity faces. Chemistry can help meet this challenge by discovering new materials that efficiently harvest solar radiation, store energy for later use, and reconvert the stored energy when needed.

    The Clean Energy Project uses computational chemistry and the willingness of people to help look for the best molecules possible for: organic photovoltaics to provide inexpensive solar cells, polymers for the membranes used in fuel cells for electricity generation, and how best to assemble the molecules to make those devices. By helping search combinatorially among thousands of potential systems, World Community Grid volunteers are contributing to this effort.”

    Discovering Dengue Drugs – Together

    mos

    Mission
    The mission of Discovering Dengue Drugs – Together – Phase 2 is to identify promising drug candidates to combat the Dengue, Hepatitis C, West Nile, Yellow Fever, and other related viruses. The extensive computing power of World Community Grid will be used to complete the structure-based drug discovery calculations required to identify these drug candidates.

    Significance
    This project will discover promising drug candidates that stop the replication of viruses within the Flaviviridae family. Members of this family, including dengue, hepatitis C, West Nile, and yellow fever viruses, pose significant health threats throughout the developed and developing world. More than 40% of the world’s population is at risk for infection by dengue virus. Annually, ~1.5 million people are treated for dengue fever and dengue hemorrhagic fever. Hepatitis C virus has infected ~2% of the world’s population. Yellow fever and West Nile viruses also have had significant global impact. Unfortunately, there are no drugs that effectively treat these diseases. Consequently, the supportive care necessary to treat these infections and minimize mortality severely strains already burdened health facilities throughout the world. The discovery of both broad-spectrum and specific antiviral drugs is expected to significantly improve global health.”

    Help Cure Muscular Dystrophy

    md

    Mission
    The mission of Discovering Dengue Drugs – Together – Phase 2 is to identify promising drug candidates to combat the Dengue, Hepatitis C, West Nile, Yellow Fever, and other related viruses. The extensive computing power of World Community Grid will be used to complete the structure-based drug discovery calculations required to identify these drug candidates.

    Significance
    This project will discover promising drug candidates that stop the replication of viruses within the Flaviviridae family. Members of this family, including dengue, hepatitis C, West Nile, and yellow fever viruses, pose significant health threats throughout the developed and developing world. More than 40% of the world’s population is at risk for infection by dengue virus. Annually, ~1.5 million people are treated for dengue fever and dengue hemorrhagic fever. Hepatitis C virus has infected ~2% of the world’s population. Yellow fever and West Nile viruses also have had significant global impact. Unfortunately, there are no drugs that effectively treat these diseases. Consequently, the supportive care necessary to treat these infections and minimize mortality severely strains already burdened health facilities throughout the world. The discovery of both broad-spectrum and specific antiviral drugs is expected to significantly improve global health.”

    Help Conquer Cancer

    hcc

    Mission
    The mission of Help Conquer Cancer is to improve the results of protein X-ray crystallography, which helps researchers not only annotate unknown parts of the human proteome, but importantly improves their understanding of cancer initiation, progression and treatment.

    Significance
    In order to significantly impact the understanding of cancer and its treatment, novel therapeutic approaches capable of targeting metastatic disease (or cancers spreading to other parts of the body) must not only be discovered, but also diagnostic markers (or indicators of the disease), which can detect early stage disease, must be identified.

    Researchers have been able to make important discoveries when studying multiple human cancers, even when they have limited or no information at all about the involved proteins. However, to better understand and treat cancer, it is important for scientists to discover novel proteins involved in cancer, and their structure and function.

    Scientists are especially interested in proteins that may have a functional relationship with cancer. These are proteins that are either over-expressed or repressed in cancers, or proteins that have been modified or mutated in ways that result in structural changes to them.

    Improving X-ray crystallography will enable researchers to determine the structure of many cancer-related proteins faster. This will lead to improving our understanding of the function of these proteins and enable potential pharmaceutical interventions to treat this deadly disease.”

    Human Proteome Folding

    hpf

    “Human Proteome Folding Phase 2 (HPF2) continues where the first phase left off. The two main objectives of the project are to: 1) obtain higher resolution structures for specific human proteins and pathogen proteins and 2) further explore the limits of protein structure prediction by further developing Rosetta software structure prediction. Thus, the project will address two very important parallel imperatives, one biological and one biophysical.

    The project, which began at the Institute for Systems Biology and now continues at New York University’s Department of Biology and Computer Science, will refine, using the Rosetta software in a mode that accounts for greater atomic detail, the structures resulting from the first phase of the project. The goal of the first phase was to understand protein function. The goal of the second phase is to increase the resolution of the predictions for a select subset of human proteins. Better resolution is important for a number of applications, including but not limited to virtual screening of drug targets with docking procedures and protein design. By running a handful of well-studied proteins on World Community Grid (like proteins from yeast), the second phase also will serve to improve the understanding of the physics of protein structure and advance the state-of-the-art in protein structure prediction. This also will help the Rosetta developers community to further develop the software and the reliability of its predictions.

    HPF2 will focus on human-secreted proteins (proteins in the blood and the spaces between cells). These proteins can be important for signaling between cells and are often key markers for diagnosis. These proteins have even ended up being useful as drugs (when synthesized and given by doctors to people lacking the proteins). Examples of human secreted proteins turned into therapeutics are insulin and the human growth hormone. Understanding the function of human secreted proteins may help researchers discover the function of proteins of unknown function in the blood and other interstitial fluids.”

    FightAIDS@Home

    HAAH

    What is AIDS?
    UNAIDS, the Joint United Nations Program on HIV/AIDS, estimated that in 2004 there were more than 40 million people around the world living with HIV, the Human Immunodeficiency Virus. The virus has affected the lives of men, women and children all over the world. Currently, there is no cure in sight, only treatment with a variety of drugs.

    Prof. Arthur J. Olson’s laboratory at The Scripps Research Institute (TSRI) is studying computational ways to design new anti-HIV drugs based on molecular structure. It has been demonstrated repeatedly that the function of a molecule — a substance made up of many atoms — is related to its three-dimensional shape. Olson’s target is HIV protease (“pro-tee-ace”), a key molecular machine of the virus that when blocked stops the virus from maturing. These blockers, known as “protease inhibitors”, are thus a way of avoiding the onset of AIDS and prolonging life. The Olson Laboratory is using computational methods to identify new candidate drugs that have the right shape and chemical characteristics to block HIV protease. This general approach is called “Structure-Based Drug Design”, and according to the National Institutes of Health’s National Institute of General Medical Sciences, it has already had a dramatic effect on the lives of people living with AIDS.

    Even more challenging, HIV is a “sloppy copier,” so it is constantly evolving new variants, some of which are resistant to current drugs. It is therefore vital that scientists continue their search for new and better drugs to combat this moving target.

    Scientists are able to determine by experiment the shapes of a protein and of a drug separately, but not always for the two together. If scientists knew how a drug molecule fit inside the active site of its target protein, chemists could see how they could design even better drugs that would be more potent than existing drugs.

    To address these challenges, World Community Grid’s FightAIDS@Home project runs a software program called AutoDock developed in Prof. Olson’s laboratory. AutoDock is a suite of tools that predicts how small molecules, such as drug candidates, might bind or “dock” to a receptor of known 3D structure.”

    ——————————————–

    There are currently about 98,000 members of this crunching community. We are called crunchers because that is what our computers do. Once having installed the software and chosen our projects, we are sent small work units to process. The finished data is sent back to WCG and we get new work units. How are we rewarded for our efforts? Really, just with the satisfactiuon of knowing that we might be helping to save lives. But, we do get little gifts, badges based upon our completed work. Some crunchers have organized themselves into teams. The teams compete for points or credits. There are al;l sorts of teams, from a few people organizing in a church or synagogue, to mega teams of techies building mroe and more Linux boxes.

    So, 98,000. That is a lot of people; but not in a world with one billion computers. We want and need your help. I am personally crunching 24/7 on five machines – yesterday the sixth, an older PC died.
    The cost in electricity? About the same as a 100-150 watt light bulb as long as you have your monitor on a power save setting.

    All WCG projects run on software developed and continually upgraded by At UC Berkeley, The Berkeley Open Infrastructure for Network Computing.You can download the little piece of BOINC software that makes this all happen either at WCG or http://boinc.berkeley.edu/.

    If you choose to download the software at the BOINC page, there you will see a link to a whole other list of wonderful projects which are running independently of WCG.

    So, please, won’t you give us a look?

     
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