Mexico City uses solar energy to clean up historic Aztec-era canals

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Mexican scientists have developed a unique “nanobubble” system that uses solar energy to boost the water quality of the canals of the popular tourist attraction Xochimilco Ecological Zone in Mexico City.

Mexico City officials have focused on purifying the long-contaminated waters of Xochimilco, a UNESCO World Heritage Site and one of the few regions of the capital that still boasts a canal network dating back to the Aztec era.

A team of researchers at the Center for Advanced Research (Cinvestav) has developed a way to use solar energy to activate a pump that pumps cleansing “nano bubbles” into the water.

According to Cinvestav researcher Refugio Rodriguez Vazquez, bubbles oxygenate water, eliminate harmful pollutants, reduce greenhouse gas emissions, and lead to healthier flora and fauna.

“We saw the good breeding of Moctezuma frogs in a frothy place,” Rodriguez said, referring to one of Mexico’s native amphibian species.

Xochimilco is known for its “Chinampa”, a floating bed of agricultural products cultivated by the Aztecs in the 14th century to feed the pre-Hispanic population.

The nanobubble system allows local farmers to “work on Chinampa and increase their productivity by having a cleaner environment and conditions,” Rodriguez said.

The Cinvestav team said the nanobubble system has also been applied to two water treatment plants.

It can also be reproduced in other waterways in Mexico City, where water quality is considered poor and supply is often at the mercy of drought.

Solar panels that power nanobubble technology sit on Xochimilco’s famous “trajineras,” a barge-like boat that shuttles tourists through the canals. It also supplies electricity on board.

“It can give us more benefits both domestically and internationally,” said trajinera service provider Miguel Poblano Lugo. “If you bring your cell phone and don’t have a battery, you can charge it right away.” Reuters

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