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Posted: January 26, 2008
Students' Terra di Aqua cocept: nanotechnology provides clean water in city of the future
(Nanowerk News) In the future, there is no bottled water. Plastic bottles boasting the purest drinking water are relics of the past, and cities create pristine reservoirs using the power of nanotechnology.
That is the future according to 16 eighth graders from Gates Intermediate School.
The group created "Terra di Aqua," a futuristic city whose name means ‘‘Land of Water’’ in Italian, for the National Engineers Week Future City Competition, held last weekend at Northeastern University.
This year’s competition asked students to use nanotechnology to monitor their city’s structure and keep it’s infrastructure healthy.
The Terra di Aqua concept - a city that relies on the power of nanotechnology to purify its water before it reaches homes - won first place in the competition. In February, several team members will compete against 40 winners from throughout the country at the national competition in Washington, D.C.
Adam Culbert, a math teacher at the school, said the students created the concept after touring Scituate’s water facilities with Gene Babin, supervisor of the town’s water division.
"The kids have these fantastic ideas that are so outside the box - because they’re kids," said Culbert, who has run the competition at Gates for two years.
In Terra di Aqua, a complex purifying system uses nanotechnology to detect contaminants and neutralize unwanted chemicals within the city’s water supply.
The water also helps to power the city. The water supply is kept in a clear polymer tank, where photosynthetic nanoparticles in the water help to intensify the solar rays. The thermal energy from the boiling water is then harnessed and distributed throughout the city.
After creating the city using the SimCity 3000 video game, the students built a scale model of the system with the help of Brian Jones, owner of Rivermoor Engineering in Scituate. Jones donated his time and office space to the team, and will accompany them to the national competition.
"I think I get more out of it than they do,’’ said Jones. ‘‘With the Future City concept, there are no holds barred, and every time we get together I am more impressed."
While the subject of nanotechnology was new to most of the students, many said that the things they learned have encouraged them to pursue careers in science or engineering.
"I learned so much about what kind of technology our future will have and how we can impact that," said Charlotte Karol, 13, who was also on the team last year.
Skippy Kennedy, one of the group’s three presenters, said the project helped him narrow his career goals.
"It was one of the best things I’ve done in the last few years,’’ said Kennedy, 13. ‘‘When I was little I kind of wanted to be an architect, and now I want to be an architectural engineer."