Washington, Feb 21 : Scientists have said that it would be possible to obtain clean water through the process of nanotechnology.
This process would involve removing toxic chemicals, bacteria, viruses, and other hazardous materials from water by using tiny particles of pure silica coated with an active material.
This method would be much more effective and at lower cost than conventional water purification methods, according to researchers.
According to Peter Majewski and Chiu Ping Chan of the Ian Wark Research Institute, at the University of South Australia, the availability of drinking quality water is fast becoming a major socio-economic issue across the globe, especially in the developing world.
More than 6000 people die every day due to water-related diseases, including diarrhea, worm infections, and infectious diseases.
In addition, organic pollutants from industrial waste water from pulp and paper mills, textiles and leather factories, steel foundries, and petrochemicals refineries, are a major cause of illness in parts of the world where regulations do not necessarily protect people from such industrial outflows.
However, water purification technology is often complicated, requires sophisticated equipment and is expensive to run and maintain. Moreover, it usually requires a final costly disinfection stage.
The Australian team has suggested that nanotechnology could provide a simple answer to the problem.
The research team investigated how silica particles can be coated easily with a nanometer-thin layer of active material based on a hydrocarbon with a silicon-containing anchor. The coating is formed through a chemical self-assembly process so involves nothing more than stirring the ingredients to make the active particles.
These active particles, known as Surface Engineered Silica (SES), were then tested to demonstrate that they could remove biological molecules, pathogens such as viruses like the Polio virus, bacteria like Escherichia coli, and Cryptosporidium parvum, which is a waterborne parasite.
"The results clearly show that organic species can efficiently be removed at pH ranges of drinking water by stirring the coated particles in the contaminated water for up to one hour and filtering the powder," the researchers said.
The team's nanotech approach to water purification could help prevent disease and poisoning for potentially millions of people.