Next: Water from waste

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Archives - June 2009
Monday, June 01, 2009

NextWaterUniversity of Oregon chemistry professor Darren Johnson and Portland-based Crystal Clear Technologies are developing a water filter that will cleanse dangerous industrial waste water while at the same time harvest the valuable metals trapped in the water. Using nanotechnology that he and graduate student Jake Vickaryous developed in 2004, Johnson has created a filter material coated with nano-particles called chelators. The organic molecules bond with toxic metal ions, immobilizing them so that as water flows through the nano-coating, toxins are drawn out, leaving pure water. Then the metal-saturated filter will be sent to a smelter where the metals will be recovered and used for commercial purposes. The filters, which CCT president Lisa Farmen plans to field test this summer, are more affordable than other purification techniques and can be recharged multiple times. One day the filters might be used to help the 884 million people around the world who do not have access to safe drinking water

NICOLE STORMBERG

 

 

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There’s a fascinating article in the December issue of the Harvard Business Review about a profound power shift taking place in business and society. It’s a long read, but the gist revolves around the tension between “old power” and “new power” as a driver of transformation. Here’s an excerpt:

Old power works like a currency. It is held by few. Once gained, it is jealously guarded, and the powerful have a substantial store of it to spend. It is closed, inaccessible, and leader-driven. It downloads, and it captures.

New power operates differently, like a current. It is made by many. It is open, participatory, and peer-driven. It uploads, and it distributes. Like water or electricity, it’s most forceful when it surges. The goal with new power is not to hoard it but to channel it.

The authors, Henry Timms and Jeremy Heimans, don’t necessarily favor one form of power over another but merely outline how power is transitioning, and how companies can take advantage of these changes to strengthen their positions in the marketplace. 

Our Powerbook issue might be viewed as a case study in the new-power transition. This annual book of lists provides information on leading businesses, nonprofits and universities in the state. Most of the featured companies are entrenched power players now pursuing more flexible and less hierarchical approaches to doing business. Law firms, for example, are adopting new technologies and fee structures to make legal services more accessible and affordable.

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New power is not only about strategy and tactics, the Harvard Business Review authors say. “The ultimate questions are ethical. The big question is whether new power can genuinely serve the common good and confront society’s most intractable problems.”

That sounds like a call to arms. Or a New Year’s resolution. Old power or new, the goals are the same: to be a force for positive change in the world. Happy 2015!

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