Gallery: Nanoparticle Science Helps Create Low-Cost Water Purification ...


In a study funded by the National Science Foundation and the National Institutes of Health, researchers have found that the process of layering nanoparticles could be used to provide safe and affordable water filters to the developing world. The process is called “atomic layer deposition” and involves layering nanoparticles onto a metal or a ceramic to create a thin film of cells. The layer can be applied to the particles used in water filtration devices. The metal or ceramic filtration particles would remove large impurities and the film would neutralize bacteria.

Over one billion people on earth don’t have access to safe drinking water. Water issues are the focus of many design for humanity projects and the ability to provide inexpensive water filters is a huge task for outreach organizations. Providing or creating water filters that are antimicrobial can prove to be a costly adventure. If the scientists involved in this study are able to take the next step into usable filtration devices it could mean a huge boost for clean drinking water missions.

This would be very helpful in the developing world, or in disaster situations — like Haiti — where people do not have access to safe water,” noted lead author of the paper Dr. Roger Narayan of the joint biomedical engineering department of NC State’s College of Engineering and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. The thin film of nanoparticles could neutralize bacteria that leads to diseases like trachoma, cholera, trichuriasis and hookworm infection that cause millions of illnesses and deaths each year.

Via Science Daily


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  1. Decker Yeadon Creates C... September 30, 2010 at 11:23 am

    […] is known for coming up with innovative and novel applications for advanced materials, including nano materials and even architectural Buckypaper. For their latest project, they made a nano solution that […]

  2. chegdan March 30, 2010 at 5:25 pm

    @ Macrupton You are absolutely correct that nanoparticles can be produced by burning wood and heating metal. Not sure what nanoparticles are made industrially by burning wood, but heating of metal yes. All that CO2 produced in heating that furnace up to several hundred degrees counts as waste too, not to count all that work into purifying the metals you want to make into an aerosol. Chemical synthesis production of nanoparticles uses a lot of solvent during the process, all waste. You are right that without stating a nanoparticle specifically…this argument of e-factor changes. It does need to be taken into account with any discussion with nanparticles.

    @austintexican I liked the video…I think I might try it. Making things like this using electrochem tend to be energy intensive. Hence why electrochemical industry are sometimes located next to their own personal hydroelectric dams or use wind power (much better) to give them the electrons they need to make this. Also, I would be that the silver that you would need to purify millions of gallons of water would eventually add up over time ($17/oz today)

    I made the mistake of not reading the scientific article before posting. It doesn’t even use nanoparticles in the method to produce these filter, rather it uses a nanoporous structured aluminum membrane with Zinc or platinum coating or with no coating. The article discusses using these structures as a medical device for the most part. There are no numbers on how cheap it is…only a statement saying that its cheap. But remember, cheap for developed world is on a different scale entirely. To make these things on third world scale…it must be cheap on that scale, or have lots of money from the first world.

  3. macrumpton March 28, 2010 at 5:21 pm

    “Looking at the E-factor (kg waste/kg product) for nanoparticle production”

    This is a meaningless statement as many nanoparticles are created as a byproduct of processes like burning wood or heating metal, and there are a limitless number of types. If the was talking about a specific particle it would have more meaning.

  4. austintexican March 28, 2010 at 4:41 pm

    In response to chegdan:
    “chegdan Says:
    March 23rd, 2010 at 2:10 pm
    …. When we are talking about clean water for the developing world, these nanoparticles must be ridiculously cheap to manufacture”

    Third world water filters are treated with “nana colloidial silver” that is dirt cheap and easy to make. (see video)

  5. yatah March 28, 2010 at 7:30 am

    Readers may also be ineterested in Tata Swach – A rice husk based nano water filer that is available for $20 in India. The product details are @

  6. chegdan March 23, 2010 at 2:10 pm

    Looking at the E-factor (kg waste/kg product) for nanoparticle production, its terrible. In fact, nanoparticle production is one of the most wasteful production methods we use (much worse than those used the oil and pharma industries). None of this technology is realizable until there is a safe, green, and efficient method of producing nanoparticles. Pharma uses nanoparticles because they are use to creating waste, making things expensive, and passing it onto the consumer. When we are talking about clean water for the developing world, these nanoparticles must be ridiculously cheap to manufacture.

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