RCPTM makes contribution to ‘Water and Civilization’ exhibition

Photo: Martina Šaradínová
saturday 4. may 2019, 9:00 – Text: Martina Šaradínová

Water and Civilization is an exhibition featuring photographs dedicated to water and its cardinal importance for sustaining life on Earth. The exhibition was launched on May 2 and continues until May 28 on Kampa Island in Prague. The major goal of the event is to raise awareness of water as a strategic material that we, along with next generations, must protect and cherish. The UP Regional Centre of Advanced Technology and Materials (RCPTM) was among the 16 institutions, both domestic and foreign, which made a contribution to the exhibition.

Jan Filip, Michal Otyepka, and Radek Zbořil participated in putting it together. According to them, nanomaterials and water are closely intertwined and their interaction is older than mankind. Key reactions leading to the emergence of life on Earth may have taken place on the surface of metal oxide or sulphide nanoparticles. Nanoparticles occur naturally in water and that could account for how they get into organisms.

“In a modern society, nanoparticles can be used for water remediation. Owing to their size and large specific surface area, nanoparticles can effectively interact with dissolved contaminants, chemically degrading and adsorbing them. Their small size enables them to migrate in groundwater, which enhances their efficiency. Some of the photographs also illustrates the use of nanoparticles for groundwater remediation. Contamination of groundwater is a specific problem since the pollution is not as clearly visible as it is on the surface, which requires employing different methods. We particularly focus on this area at RCPTM within a project funded by the Technology Agency of the Czech Republic (TAČR), Competence Centre. We have obtained a patent for the technology producing such nanoparticles,” said Jan Filip, one of the authors of the accompanying texts.

The other RCPTM display boards present water as an essential chemical compound occurring in different chemical states, which illustrates the importance of water for life, particularly for humans, the existence of new types of contaminants, and employment of nanomaterials while garnering renewable energy resource, e.g. by water splitting.

The curator and co-author of the exhibition is the Egyptologist Miroslav Bárta, who expressed his appreciation for RCPTM’s participation in the project. “RCPTM ranks among the most significant research centres in the country. Its broad significance is reflected in the centre’s long-term scientific results, publications, and educating a new generation of scientists. Therefore, the contribution to the exhibition, which has been the first to open on an international scale, is crucial. The display boards clearly and effectively explain the properties of water and its importance for life on Earth,” he said.

The exhibition contains numerous artistic photographs as well as illustrative images with accompanying texts. The visitors can, for instance, see photos of the oldest irrigation channels in Israel or the harsh impact of plastic on sea creatures. Photographs taken by the Czech geographer and hydrologist Bohumír Jánský, who together with his team located the origin of the Amazon River in 1999, will also draw visitors’ interest. Visitors will also have the chance to see historic images as well, for example an engraving of Charles Bridge from the end of the 18th century, which shows the accumulation of large packs of floating ice during floods. Photographs of another catastrophic flood in Prague (2002) are also on display. Last but not least, the American Scripps Institution of Oceanography is presenting its latest research results there. Visitors can view the outdoor part of the exhibition 24 hours a day, until May 28.