'Drinkable book' filters contaminated water

Aug 17, 2015, 2:30 PM EDT
Women wash and a boy drinks from a common water tap near a polling station on April 22, 2009 in the Sweetla Squatter Camp near Alexandra Township, South Africa.
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A book has been successfully tested, the pages of which are threaded with silver and copper -- two compounds that filter contaminated water to make it drinkable. In 25 regions with contaminated water, the book's technology killed 99% of bacteria. Quartz reports:

As many as 358 million people in sub-Saharan Africa do not have reliable access to drinking water. Now, researchers have come up with a book on water safety whose pages can be used to filter water.
 
Trials done in 25 contaminated water sites in South Africa, Ghana, Kenya, Haiti, and Bangladesh showed the book, which contains tiny particles of copper and silver, could eliminate over 99% of bacteria, according to results of the project unveiled at the American Chemical Society’s national meeting that began yesterday (Aug. 16th).
 
Teri Dankovich, from Carnegie Mellon in Pittsburgh, who has been leading the research on what she calls “the drinkable book” said in one trial, they tested a ditch contaminated with sewage that contained millions of bacteria. “Even with highly contaminated water sources like that one, we can achieve 99.9% purity with our silver-and copper-nanoparticle paper, bringing bacteria levels comparable to those of US drinking water,” she said.
 
 
The bugs absorb silver or copper ions - depending on the nanoparticles used - as they percolate through the page.
 
"Ions come off the surface of the nanoparticles, and those are absorbed by the microbes," Dr Dankovich explained.
 
According to her tests, one page can clean up to 100 litres of water. A book could filter one person's water supply for four years.
 
Dr Dankovich had already tested the paper in the lab using artificially contaminated water. Success there led to the field trials which she conducted over the past two years, working with the charities Water is Life and iDE.
 
In these trials, the bacteria count in the water samples plummeted by well over 99% on average - and in most samples, it dropped to zero.
 
"Greater than 90% of the samples had basically no viable bacteria in them, after we filtered the water through the paper," Dr Dankovich said.

 

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