The technology, unlike any of the existing ones, is cheap, fast, effective, and does not require any electricity. The work was published in the latest issue of the journal Environmental Science and Technology.
Water scarcity is considered one of the biggest problems of modern society, perhaps just after global warming. We often hear about natural disasters that strike different parts of the world leaving hundreds and some times thousands of people with no access to clean drinking water.
Exactly one of these disasters, or more precisely the tsunami in the Indian Ocean in 2004, was what inspired Siew-Leng Loo and team to look into an alternative ways to disinfect water in order to aid disaster relief campaigns.
Silver nanoparticles are known for their ability to eliminate bacteria when applied to filter membranes. Unfortunately, they can easily leach out into the water, making it unsuitable for drinking.
The team addressed this issue, by creating a water-soluble porous polymer gel, which contains the silver nanoparticles. The key is hidden in treatment times. During testing, the team was able to eliminate virtually all of the bacteria present in the test samples of water polluted with E-coli and Bacillus Subtilis in a matter of minutes.
In addition, the scientists established that the required amount of gel needed to clean half a liter of water is only four grams. This can not only be reused multiple times, but it can also be safely and easily delivered to sites in need via an airdrop.
The manufacturing of the product costs only 50 cents per individual-sized gel treatment, providing affordable solution to the problem of drinking water shortage.