Novel project for drinking water

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16 Jan 2019

Scientists have created a novel method of allowing people to drink garden pond water safely.


The project at the University of the West of England, Bristol could transform the lives of millions of people in the developing world who have no access to clean drinking water.

The portable and mobile system has been developed for use in remote or undeveloped areas of the world to provide clean water for disaster relief and humanitarian emergencies.

A modest garden shed next to a pond at the university’s main campus is the focus of the project.

The research team has pumped water from the pond directly into a treatment system which uses a disinfectant and a state-of-the-art membrane filtration procedure.

From this, potable water that meets drinking water standards from source can be produced in a matter of minutes.

Professor Darren Reynolds, who is leading the research team, said: “I am perfectly happy drinking this water.

“Our system has the potential to benefit millions of people living in areas where safe water is currently unavailable.

“As populations continue to grow, and essential natural resources critical to survival become scarce in some areas of the world, we will become dependent upon novel technological solutions.

“The first stage of our project has resulted in the capacity to produce two cubic metres of drinking water in a 12-day period.

“This may not seem like a huge amount, but put into context, humans need a minimum of two litres of drinking water a day which is less than one cubic metre a year.

“Key to this project is the novel biocide that we have developed that does not corrode like chlorine.”

In conventional drinking water treatment systems chlorine is used for disinfection but unfortunately chlorine is known to corrode the membrane material that is used for filtration of the water – making the long-term deployment of portable treatment systems in remote areas very difficult.

This system incorporates a disinfectant that has been developed at the university that does not have a corrosive impact on components over time but still kills any bacteria that may be present in the water.

The portable system is currently being fitted into standard 6m transport containers making each unit easy to transport by road, ship or train.

Prof Reynolds added: “Clean drinking water is obviously essential to life and we know there are many areas of the undeveloped world where people are still drinking water that is contaminated with disease or by thoughtless industrial practice that cause death and misery.”

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