A prototype developed by researchers at the Indian Institute of Technology Medras in Chennai, India, purifies 10 litres of water at a time, making it free from harmful contaminants and bacteria.
The study was published in the latest issue of the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. It shows how a mixture of various nanoparticles can be used to tackle the main problems associated with drinking water, namely abundance of microbes, presence of bacteria and viruses as well as high concentrations of harmful chemicals such as arsenic, lead and washed off pesticides.
The team of scientists engineered a water purifying filter made of composite nanomaterials, which release continuous stream of silver ions to remove microbes. Several other materials have also been added to the filter cartridge to remove heavy metals and chemical contaminants.
The prototype is currently being tested in regions of India and if successful, the authors are convinced that it would be valuable in many other rural areas around the globe.
Although over the past few months, it was reported on a number of occasions that silver ions, or silver nanoparticles, could be harmful to the environment, when accumulated in waste water or sledge, in regions of the world where drinking water is scarce, such technology might save millions of lives.
As stated by the World Health Organization and the UNICEF Joint Monitoring Programme for Water Supply and Sanitation, around 783 million people around the world, or 11% of the world’s population, do not have access to clean sources of drinking water.