Safe drinking water is essential for everyone; sadly, the availability of water that is safe to drink is still a concern for many people. One of the natural contaminants that lead to poisoning of more than 137 million people in 70 countries across the world is arsenic. This marks a huge challenge for researchers who are constantly trying to find new ways for fulfilling the goal of making safe drinking water available for everyone. The good news is that researchers in Australia have found a new filtration system that could remove arsenic from water.
The new technology created by the researchers is quite easy and cheap and can be developed using recycled parts. It will also be much more efficient and cost-effective than current methods. The current methods such as ion exchange or reverse osmosis are not really cheap and thus countries (the underdeveloped ones) that actually need them are not really using them.
This is the type of technology we need to make the world a better place
The team of researchers is from the University of Technology Sydney (UTS) and they are working in collaboration with Vietnamese partners. The partners include the Vietnam National University, the Vietnam Academy of Science and Technology and other local partners from the country. The UTS team explains that because arsenic poisoning is a slow process most people just end up drinking the same water for a long time. The long-term effects though can be very fatal, that is why the team created a design that is affordable and simple to create.
"There are three key components to this system: an organic membrane, a tank/drum in which the membrane is inserted, and an absorptive cartridge made from locally available industrial waste products," said lead researcher, Saravanamuth Vigneswaran.
"This sustainable system will both maximise locally sourced resources and minimise arsenic waste and environmental pollution, improving health and quality of life."
The good thing about this design is that the membrane, which will act as a selective barrier, will also help in removing bacteria and solids from the unfiltered water. This means that the eventual end product that will be generated will be safe to drink.
"The filtration can be powered by gravity or solar or by hand pump. Membranes will last up to three years, while the cartridges absorb the arsenic and are periodically replaced with new ones (every three to six months)," said Vigneswaran.
"The waste cartridges will be turned into safe building materials, so the system safely disposes of arsenic waste."
Added benefits of this project will be apparent
Another good thing is that the product can be produced, installed and locally maintained. So once it will be installed it will be useful in terms of water filtration and also as a means of job creation for the local community. The team has been working on this project for the past few years and has released a lot of papers about their results. They also currently won a Technology against Poverty prize that gave them extra support needed to change their work into reality.
Arsenic poisoning has very fatal long-term effects and should be removed from the drinking water of all those under the threat. Work like this should be encouraged and supported so that better ideas can be born and more cost-effective and efficient methods be introduced. We will keep you updated on anything that the team does further regarding their product, till then do let us know what you think about this in the comments below.