Mexico City uses solar power to clean historic Aztec-era canals

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MEXICO CITY, Aug. 24 (Reuters) – Mexican scientists have developed a unique “nanobubble” system using solar energy to improve water quality in the canals of the Xochimilco ecological zone in Mexico City, a popular tourist attraction .

Authorities in Mexico City have focused on cleaning up the long-polluted waters of Xochimilco, a UNESCO World Heritage site and one of the few areas in the capital that still have canal networks dating from the Aztec era.

A team of researchers from the Center for Research and Advanced Studies (Cinvestav) has developed a method using solar energy to activate a pump that sends cleaning “nanobubbles” into the water.

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The bubbles help oxygenate the water, remove harmful pollutants and reduce greenhouse gas emissions, leading to healthier flora and fauna, according to Refugio Rodriguez Vazquez, researcher at Cinvestav.

“We have seen in the places where we have bubbled a good proliferation of the Montezuma frog,” said Rodriguez, referring to one of the amphibian species native to Mexico.

Xochimilco is known for its “chinampas”, floating beds of agricultural produce cultivated by the Aztecs in the 14th century to feed the population of the pre-Hispanic city.

The nanobubble system allows local farmers “to be able to work on their chinampas and make them productive by having a cleaner environment and conditions,” Rodriguez said.

The Cinvestav team said the nanobubble system is also being applied in two water treatment plants.

Members of a team of researchers from the Center for Research and Advanced Studies (Cinvestav), who have developed a method that converts solar energy into photovoltaic energy that activates a pump that sends “nanobubbles” into the water, install a water system on a trajinera boat as part of a project to clean up polluted water in the Xochimilco canals, in Mexico City, Mexico on August 20, 2021. REUTERS / Toya Sarno Jordan

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It could also be replicated in other rivers in Mexico City, where water quality is considered poor and supplies are often at the mercy of droughts.

Solar panels powering nanobubble technology can be found atop Xochimilco’s famous “trajineras”, barge-like boats that carry tourists through canals. They also provide electricity on board.

“It can bring us more benefits, both for national and international tourism,” said Miguel Poblano Lugo, a trajinera service provider. “People who bring their cell phones and don’t have a battery can charge them on site.”

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Reporting by Reuters TV Writing by Cassandra Garrison Editing by Matthew Lewis

Our Standards: Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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