The sounds of amphibians are altered by the increase in ambient temperature, a phenomenon that, in addition to interfering with reproductive behaviour, serves as an indicator of global warming. Researchers at the University of Seville have resorted to artificial intelligence to create an automatic classifier of the thousands of frog and toad sounds that can be recorded in a natural environment.
Pee can be transformed into electricity with the help of bacterial metabolism, thanks to a device created by researchers at the University of the West of England, where Spanish researchers are working. A test cubicle was installed at Glastonbury festival, but the final aim is to improve sanitation facilities in Developing World countries or in areas where there is limited electricity generation, such as refugee camps.
Researchers of the Universitat Politècnica de València, the Universitat Jaume I de Castellón, the Imperial College of London and the Universidade Estadual Paulista of Sao Paulo (Brasil) have created a new type of cement from ceramic waste in the laboratory. It is a more sustainable cement and it also opens business possibilities for the ceramics industry. The first results of this study were released the last year in Construction and Building Materials magazine.
Engineers at Carlos III University in Madrid, Spain, have designed an optical sensor that detects how much salt is on road surfaces in real time. This avoids the need to spread the substance excessively, because although this prevents ice from forming on roads, it can also harm vehicles, infrastructure and the environment.
An international research team has analysed the relationship between the amount of phosphorus recorded in 1,500 European lakes and reservoirs, and the growth of cyanobacteria, a toxin-producing microorganism. The results show that 23% of these water masses in Spain exceed the level established by the World Health Organisation (WHO). This percentage is closer to 50% for Germany and the Netherlands.
The use of natural pools – those that do not use chlorine or other chemical disinfection products – has seen an upward trend in recent years. Now, scientists from the University of Barcelona have discovered faecal contamination in some pools due to droppings from birds and other animals. As such, they recommend investigating the scope of the problem and determining the microbiological parameters that would ensure that people can bathe healthily.
In summer, levels of ozone (O3) in the atmosphere frequently rise. In Galicia, due to human emissions and high levels of vegetation, summer episodes of high concentrations of ozone affecting air quality have also been recorded. An atmosphere modelling system applied to the northwest of the Iberian Peninsula by researchers at the University of Aveiro (Portugal) and the University of Santiago de Compostela (Spain) has detected ozone transfer from northern Portugal to Galicia.
In Bolivia, in the largest continuous salt desert in the world, researchers from the Polytechnic University of Catalonia have found a bacterium that stores large amounts of PHB, a prized polymer. This biodegradable plastic is used by the food and pharmaceutical industries, for example to produce nanospheres to transport antibiotics.