June 13, 2007 Making Water from Thin Air

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news_id8An architect pursuing a Ph.D. at Technion-Israel Institute of Technology and his colleague have devised a low-tech way to collect dew from the air and turn it into fresh water. Their invention recently won an international competition seeking to make clean, safe water available to millions around the world.

The brainchild of Technion Architecture and Building Planning grad student Joseph Cory and his colleague Eyal Malka, “WatAir,” is an inverted pyramid array of panels that collects dew from the air and turns it into fresh water in almost any climate.

Inspired by the dew-collecting properties of leaves, one 315 sq ft unit can extract a minimum of 48 liters of fresh water from the air each day. Depending on the number of collectors used, an unlimited daily supply of water could be produced even in remote and polluted places.

According to Cory, WatAir can be easily incorporated into both rural and urban landscapes because it has a relatively small base. Its vertical and diagonal design utilizes gravity to increase the collection areas. The panels are flexible and easy to collapse when not in use, and provide shelter from rain and heat and play areas for children.

“WatAir is a wonderfully simple concept which draws its inspiration from nature,” said competition judge Jo da Silva. “This is a simple and effective idea using tried and tested technology.”

The project was selected from 100 entries from North America, Europe, Africa and Asia as the winner of the “drawing water challenge” sponsored by Arup – a global firm of designers, engineers, planners and business consultants specializing in innovative and sustainable design.

Geotectura and Malka Architects, the respective architectural studios of Cory and Malka, are located in Haifax.

Technion-Israel Institute of Technology is Israel’s leading science and technology university. Home to the country’s winners of the 2004 Nobel Prize in Chemistry, it commands a worldwide reputation for its pioneering work in nanotechnology, computer science, biotechnology, water-resource management, architecture, materials engineering, aerospace and medicine. The majority of the founders and managers of Israel’s high-tech companies are alumni. Founded over 60 years ago, the Canadian Technion Society has been one of the university’s most reliable and prolific supporters, having raised upwards of $70 million to date.

May 17, 2007 Technion Protecting Water from Biological and Chemical Terrorism

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Schechter, Ostfeld & Kashi
Schechter, Ostfeld & Kashi

NATO (the North Atlantic Treaty Organization) is financing interdisciplinary research being conducted at Technion’s Grand Water Research Institute.

The Technion-led project examines ways to protect water supply systems against biological or chemical terrorism and is the first research of its kind in Israel. The project’s main focus is to eliminate terror threats against water systems.

Using a wide-range of Technion expertise in the fields of civil and environmental engineering, chemistry, and biotechnology, Technion scientists have integrated mathematical models to determine the ideal placement of monitoring stations with advanced technology to identify and neutralize chemical and biological contaminants.

“It’s become apparent that water distribution systems in the US, Israel and the rest of the world’s developed nations are totally exposed terrorist attacks,” relates Professor Israel Schechter of Technion’s Schulich Faculty of Chemistry. “We are talking about the exposure of numerous, large systems – it’s just impossible to have guards protecting all of them.”

The United States government agrees with Schechter’s assessment. A committee of experts studied the problem and presented recommendations to the US Congress. In light of this, Congress assigned the equivalent of Canadian $663 Million towards solving this problem.

In his initial thoughts, Professor Schechter was convinced that a chemical terror attack on water supplies would be very difficult to carry-out because of the incredible volume of poison required to contaminate even a small water supply. It wasn’t until he shifted his thinking that he realized the imminent threat.

“I tried to think like a terrorist and then I discovered a way in which only a handful of a certain type of poison could be put into water sources and cause mass human fatalities despite the dilution factor. Therefore, I began to develop a device that can detect chemical poisoning of water and neutralize it.”

In light of the project’s importance, NATO, along with Technion’s Grand Water Research Institute and the Institute for Future Security Research, as well as the Israel Water Commission, decided to finance its research and development together.

Professor Yechezkel Kashi of Technion’s Faculty of Biotechnology and Food Engineering is currently working on methods of rapid identification of pathogenic bacteria in water – such as cholera. Based on the recognition of DNA sequences, Professor Kashi and his group at Technion have succeeded in identifying DNA sequences that represent a wide variation of bacterial strains. They have gone a step further and developed technology based on these sequences that can eventually be used to accurately identify a multitude of bacteria present in water supplies.

“This gives us the ability to determine the identity of specific bacteria,” he explains. “We are now developing a scanner that is rapid, specific and sensitive in identifying specific bacteria. The development is being carried out in cooperation with Professor David Walt of Tufts University in Boston.”

The question of where to eventually place Professor Kashi’s scanner and Professor Schechter’s monitoring and neutralizer facility to detect and combat terror threats on water supplies was solved by Dr. Avi Ostfeld of Technion’s Faculty of Civil and Environmental Engineering.

“Water supply systems are built over tens, sometimes hundreds, of kilometers,” says Dr. Ostfeld. “They are made up of pipes, tanks, pumping units and consumer connections. It is impossible to physically protect all of them. Therefore, they are more vulnerable to intentional intrusion of contaminants.”

Dr. Ostfeld, who initiated the project and manages it at Technion, built a mathematical model that simulates water flow, pressure, and contaminant movement in a water system for the 100,000 water lines of the city of Tel Aviv. This was accomplished in cooperation with Engineer David Jackman, director of the Water and Sewage Division of the Tel Aviv municipality and Professor Kevin Lansey of the University of Arizona. In accordance with the model, a decision will be made as to where in the water supply system the monitoring station will be placed.

The Tel Aviv project, which is scheduled to be completed at the end of 2008, has been budgeted for Canadian $450,000.

Technion-Israel Institute of Technology is Israel’s leading science and technology university. Home to the country’s winners of the 2004 Nobel Prize in Chemistry, it commands a worldwide reputation for its pioneering work in nanotechnology, computer science, biotechnology, water-resource management, architecture, materials engineering, aerospace and medicine. The majority of the founders and managers of Israel’s high-tech companies are alumni. Founded over 60 years ago, the Canadian Technion Society has been one of the university’s most reliable and prolific supporters, having raised upwards of $70 million to date.

May 17, 2007

April 9, 2007 Chag Sameach! Your Seder plate will never look the same again!

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news_id7As we prepare to gather with family and friends to share the Passover story, we need look no further than the Seder table to see how far we have come since the time of Moses.

As is our tradition to retell the story of Jews being freed from slavery, Professor Moussa Youdim’s research on the “Multifunctional Activities of Green Tea Catechins in Neuroprotection” will help us ensure that we always remember the story.

At our table…

Salt Water:  Technion Scientists are leading the world in water desalination efforts. Over the years and today, Technion has set the nation’s agenda where water is concerned. Prof. Raphael Semiat and Prof. David Hasson, among others in the Grand Water Research Institute (GWRI), are sought after both locally and internationally for their expertise.

Desalination experts from Technion, graduates and faculty alike, have helped Israel’s IDE Technologies, a major global leader in desalination, to build the world’s largest seawater Reverse Osmosis desalination plant in Ashkelon.

Maror:  (Bitter Herbs) Professor Joseph Miltz of Technion’s Faculty of Food Engineering and Biotechnology demonstrated the power of Basil to act as a layer of anti-microbial protection in packaging food.

When incorporated into plastic wrap, Basil extracts enhanced food safety, slowing the growth of eight types of lethal bacteria. Experiments showed the wrapping extended shelf life of cheese and most likely of meats, fish, baked goods, fruits and vegetables. Using “Maror” technology, your family could be feasting on Seder leftovers throughout the entire holiday!

Charoset:  This sweet, jam-like mixture symbolizes the bricks made by Jewish slaves and helps us remember the labour and construction work of our ancestors. Technion scientist Dr. Dina Wasserman of Technion’s National Building Research Institute says, “to understand the past is key to the future.”

Her team provides engineering solutions using authentic materials and nondestructive methods to study degradation, corrosion and weathering processes of historical and cultural heritage sites. In doing so, the analysis helps other scientists preserve sites, like the Southern Wall of the Temple Mount, for future generation of visitors.

Matzah:  The bread of affliction reminds us how Jewish slaves fled from bondage with little time to properly prepare even the most basic foods. Today, the “Atidim” Project, a joint project between the IDF and Technion continues to advance talented students from peripheral areas and underprivileged families, most recently those of Druze and Ethiopian descent, and helps them receive an academic education in science and engineering.

Another project – NOAM – provides the opportunity for outstanding Arab high school students. Speaking on behalf of the students at NOAM’s opening ceremony in November 2006, Rana Zahran, a student from Iblin in the Galilee, said the project is a unique opportunity for Arab youth. “We are lucky that there are people who are thinking about how to unite us instead of how to divide us. If we would all work together, we could reach unprecedented new heights,” she said.

Chazereth:  OrganiTech, a Technion Incubator company, pioneered a robotic lettuce growing operation. The revolutionary method automatically grows fresh vegetables efficiently and economically, everyday throughout the year, without the use of dangerous pesticides.

Using the proven hydroponic growing technology, the automatic Grow-tech 2000 is fully computerized. All planting and harvesting us performed by robots based on intelligent monitoring and sensor programs.

Four Cups of Wine:  While we drink a cup of wine at four points in the Seder to remember the four redemptions promised and fulfilled by G_d, Technion Professor Miki Aviram’s research clinically proved that red wine reduces cholesterol oxidation and attenuates arteriosclerosis, the major cause of morbidity and mortality in the Western world. L’chaim!

As is our tradition to retell the story of Jews being freed from slavery, Professor Moussa Youdim’s research on the “Multifunctional Activities of Green Tea Catechins in Neuroprotection” will help us ensure that we always remember the story.

Passover:  Today, when we look to the sky we can think of the Gurwin TechSat II – the Technion student-designed satellite – orbiting the globe, which passes over the Earth at an altitude of over 800 Kilometres. Professor Moshe Guelman, Technion’s Asher Space Research Institute director, says “at this rate, the Technion satellite will remain in space for hundreds of years, as a reminder of Technion activity for generations to come.”

For now and for the future, may you and your families share a wonderful holiday.

Chag Pesach Sameach to all our friends, from the Canadian Technion Society

February 21, 2007 A $1 Million Gift for Technion from the Azrieli Foundation

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Mr. David J. Azrieli
Mr. David J. Azrieli

The Azrieli Foundation announced that it is making a $1 million gift to the Faculty of Architecture at Technion-Israel Institute of Technology, in honour of the 85th birthday of the world-renowned architect, developer and philanthropist, David J. Azrieli, Canadian Technion Society Honourary Life National President.

“As a professional David Azrieli has been the driving force behind the development of innovative projects in Tel Aviv, Be’er Sheva and Jerusalem as well as across North America,” explained Arnold M. Ludwick, President of the Canadian Technion Society. “From the beginning – before his business success – David has been a symbol of tzedakah, giving back to the community by devoting considerable time, energy and financial support to worthy causes. A key focus has been institutions of higher learning including Concordia, McGill, Carleton, Yeshiva University in New York, Tel-Aviv University and of course Technion.”

David Azrieli’s experiences as a student at the Technion in the 1940’s clearly influenced his decision to contribute generously. “The years I spent studying architecture at Technion in the 1940’s were not only formative to my career,” explained Mr. Azrieli, “they provided a new stability and a sense of family after the losses I sustained in the war. On the occasion of my 85th birthday, I am delighted to give back to Technion’s School of Architecture. I do not think it an exaggeration to say that I am what I am today thanks to Technion.”

David Joshua Azrieli was born in 1922 in Makow, Poland. At the start of World War Two in September 1939, he left for Russia where he managed to stay one step ahead of the Nazis for three years. The story of how he survived and made his way to British-mandate Palestine in late 1942 is chronicled in his memoir, One Step Ahead, (published in 1999 by Yad Vashem). After arriving in pre-state Israel, David worked on a kibbutz, studied architecture at the Technion-Israel Institute of Technology, joined the Haganah, served as an officer in the Seventh Brigade during Israel’s War of Independence in 1948, and participated in the liberation of Jerusalem.

David Azrieli arrived in Canada in 1954 and two years later began his building career with the modest construction of four houses in a Montreal suburb. Today, his unparalleled success in the building trade is measured in the imaginative office buildings, high-rise residences, office towers and shopping centres he has built in Canada, the United States and Israel. In each case, he conceives the idea, designs the plan, and builds the building which then remains under his ownership and management. Among his innovations is the construction of the first enclosed shopping centre in Israel, the Canion Ayalon in Tel-Aviv, which sparked a consumer revolution that has changed the way Israelis shop, products and services are merchandised, and properties are developed.

Over the years, David Azrieli has received many awards and honours. In 1984 he was awarded the Order of Canada, the country’s highest civilian order, in recognition for his contributions to the economic, social and cultural development of the National Capital region. In 1999, he was named “Chevalier” in the Ordre Nationale du Quebec. In 2002, he was invested as a “Ne’eman” or Honorary Trustee of the City of Jerusalem.

This is not the first time Mr. Azrieli has contributed to Technion.   In 1984 he endowed The Azrieli Chair in Architecture and Town Planning. He served as National President of the Canadian Technion Society for many years and is currently the organization’s Honorary Life National President. He also sits on the International Board of Governors of the Technion. In 1985, he was awarded an Honorary Doctorate of Science from the Technion.

Mr. Azrieli also supports many other causes in education in both Canada and Israel for which he has been recognized. In addition to the Technion, he holds honorary Doctorates from Concordia University, Yeshiva University and Carleton University. He sits on the Board of Governors of Tel-Aviv University and the Shenkar School of Engineering, and is a member of the Board of the Israel Museum.    CJN STORY  l  TECHNION FAST FACTS