Scientists Claim Simple Treatment Removes Bacteria

University of South Australia (UniSA) scientists have discovered a simple way to remove bacteria and other contaminants from water using tiny particles of pure silica coated with an active nano-material. The water treatment process is a new concept, not used anywhere else in the world, according to an Aug. 11 press release.

Current water purification techniques are often complicated and use sophisticated equipment, which is expensive to operate and maintain, and includes a final, costly disinfection stage. This can then result in byproducts like trihalomethane which can have serious effects on human health.

UniSA's Professor of Nanotechnology and Nanomanufacturing Peter Majewski shared his findings on the new treatment process at the seminar Surface-engineered silica: water treatment for a thirsty world on Aug. 12, as part of the university's free lecture series, Gift of Knowledge 2008.

"The water treatment process can remove bacteria, chemicals, viruses, and other contaminants from water much more effectively than conventional water purification methods," Majewski said.

"Its major benefits include an easy-to-use chemical and physical treatment process that cleans water without requiring additional energy and uses recyclable non-toxic base materials like the waste product silica and water, which bring costs down. These features make it a very attractive alternative to desalination, which incurs high energy costs," he said.

"UniSA's nano-solution to water purification has the potential to prevent disease and poisoning of millions of people," he added.

Testing of the active particles demonstrates that they can remove pathogens such as the Polio virus, bacteria such as Escherichia coli, and the waterborne parasite Cryptosporidium parvum.

"The good news is that it should be available within two years."

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