Stanford Gadget Purifies Water In Minutes Using Solar Energy

Posted: Aug 18 2016, 5:17am CDT | by , in News | Latest Science News

 
Stanford Gadget Purifies Water in Minutes Using Solar Energy
A researcher holds a small, nanostructured device that uses sunlight to disinfect water. By harnessing a broad spectrum of sunlight, it works faster than devices that use only ultraviolet rays. Credit: Jin Xie/Stanford University
  • Small Contraption makes Water Fit for Drinking via Sunlight in a Jiffy

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A small contraption that was invented at Stanford University makes water fit for drinking via sunlight in a jiffy.

Is that a fleck of dirt in your drink? Or could it be a teensy weensy insect?

Nope! It is a contraption that purifies water in minutes using the power of the sun.

Designed by researchers at Stanford University and the Department of Energy's SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory, it has a dimension of 1 cm by 2 cm and is half the size of a postage stamp.

This device or rather tablet cleans and filters the water via the sun’s rays. This invention could allow those who are out on a hike to purify their water supply quickly and efficiently.

Also people living in the Third World can use this method instead of more power-reliant techniques. The traditional method is to boil water. Then there is an ultraviolet wand that comes in handy yet it has to be charged.

So far this tiny invention has been the most efficient and economical of the whole lot. While there are devices that utilize the sun’s rays to decontaminate water, they use UV rays which take a long time to do their job.

The task requires hours to days to reach completion. The Stanford tablet just requires a few minutes. Now, that is what we call neat!

There are 663 million people in the global village who lack clean drinking water. Also at least 1000 children die each day due to unsanitary conditions of the water supply.

The infectious diseases carried by the water lead to all sorts of fatalities. UV light is just 4% of the overall spectrum of sunlight. Even visible light forms just 50% of solar energy.

Yet it is a sizable portion of sunlight. Why not employ it freely since it comes without a cost. To use solar energy for water disinfection is in fact a great idea.

The small glass tablet made at Stanford University has a topping of small amounts of copper. Also nanoflakes of the lubricant molybdenum disulfide cover its exterior.

This is the key chemical which undergoes a reaction at the right moment to disinfect the water. All the bacteria get killed quickly and efficiently. The tablet has a reputation for zapping bacteria.

It killed off 99.999% of the bacteria in a 25 ml sample of water in a time lapse of merely 20 minutes. This can be scaled up indefinitely. The cost is merely a few dollars.

It has to be road-tested in the real world though. Within three to five years, it will reach the commercial market. There is only one drawback. That is that it works against E.coli bacteria and lactic acid bacteria. Viruses and harmful chemicals (lead comes to mind) are unaffected by this tablet.

The findings of this research got published in Nature Nanotechnology.

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