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Bacteria-derived Water Filters Built For Water Purification

Drinking water contamination is currently considered to be a huge issue in today’s world owing to the soaring bacterial and viral epidemics. However, there are still many regions devoid of drinking water. According to the study, about half of the world’s populace by 2025 will be living in water-stressed regions which is the reason the contact to clean water is a grand challenge for the National Academy of Engineering. The Washington University engineers have fabricated a new membrane technology which purifies water while averting biofouling, or upsurging of bacteria or other harmful microorganisms that decrease the gush of water. The bacteria used to construct the filtering membranes are the major part of the study.

According to Srikanth Singamaneni and Young-Shin Jun and their group together worked on developing the ultrafiltration membrane made by means of graphene oxide and bacterial nanocellulose that was found to be vastly efficient, environmentally friendly, and durable. In the future, if this technique was to ever scale up it will definitely help the developing countries having low access to clean water. The biofouling ruins almost every membrane and it is very critical. This challenge has been troubling the researchers since quite some time now. The gold nanostars membranes were expensive; hence, there was a need for an alternative. The Gluconacetobacter hansenii bacteria when fed sugary substance form cellulose nanofibers in water into which the researchers integrated graphene oxide (GO) flakes during the growth so that a stable and durable structure is formed.

The bacteria are later killed using a base solution and the oxygen of GO are removed which reduces it. The sunlight plus reduced GO helped generate heat, which is dissolute into the adjacent water and bacteria nanocellulose. This new membrane can also kill bacteria. The heat helps purify the water as well as kill the microorganisms. The membrane can heat up to 70 degrees Celsius that to very quickly. A pristine membrane version possessing a high quality of nanocellulose fibers helped filter water faster just like ultrafiltration membranes working under high operating pressure. As per the researchers, a spiral-wound module system can help use this membrane along with other mechanical functions to clean water. The Ohio State University researchers have found a solution to deal with water scarcity by creating a laboratory-level technique.

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