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A Novel Water Treatment Method Using Simple Electrochemistry

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Dr Hilary Nath (left) and Associate Professor Alana Langdon with their PEFT cell

Various water treatment systems have sprung up to increase the quality of drinking water. For remote and underdeveloped areas, unfortunately, these technologies are not within reach. This situation led two chemists to a simple, yet brilliant idea to transform bore water into a potable one.

Through electrochemistry, Dr. Hilary Nath and Associate Professor Alan Langdon of University of Waikato in New Zealand came up with a low-cost novel method of eliminating iron and manganese from bore water, and disinfecting the latter as well.

The new water treatment system involves two perforated titanium electrodes and in between which electrical current is flown. This flow of electrons allows naturally occurring chloride ions in water to undergo reduction of oxidation state and become chlorine molecules. These chlorine molecules then oxidize metal ions in water and precipitate them out of the water.

With the disinfecting powers of chlorine molecules, water that pass through the new system named “perforated electric flow through” or PEFT comes out sufficiently potable for drinking. The two inventors also found out that as they bought the two electrodes closer, the higher electric field is produced and the more potent the chlorines produced are. In fact, this electric field is a hundred times more susceptible to the disinfecting effect of chlorine.

Aside from being low-cost, the PEFT system can also be powered up by just using a car battery. It is truly an innovative and affordable water treatment process for everyone and for almost all types of water. “The initial focus will be disinfection of harvested rain water, disinfection of water supplies derived from surface water and bore water contaminated with iron – we need to be very sure our technology is robust before contemplating overseas markets, particularly in developing nations,” says Dr. Nath.

[via PhysOrg]

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