Alternative methods for the reduction of evaporation: practical exercises for the science classroom
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Across the world, freshwater is valued as the most critically important natural resource, as it is required to sustain the cycle of life. Evaporation is one of the primary environmental processes that can reduce the amount of quality water available for use in industrial, agricultural and household applications. The effect of evaporation becomes intensified especially during conditions of drought, particularly in traditionally arid and semi-arid regions, such as those seen in a number of countries over the past ten years. In order to safeguard against the influence of droughts and to save water from being lost to the evaporative process, numerous water saving mechanisms have been developed and tested over the past century. Two of the most successful and widely used mechanisms have included floating hard covers and chemical film monolayers. This article describes a laboratory based project developed for senior high school and first year university classes, which has been designed to introduce students to the concepts of evaporation, evaporation modelling and water loss mitigation. Specifically, these ideas are delivered by simulating the large scale deployment of both monolayers and floating hard covers on a small water tank under numerous user defined atmospheric and hydrodynamic conditions, including varying surface wind speeds and underwater bubble plumes set to changing flow rates.