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Nanotech Solutions to Provide Safe Drinking Water
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by Fred Tepper, President, Argonide Corpration
Since the discovery of bacteria and its involvement in cholera, man recognized that water could be contaminated and become unsafe to drink. Microbes are by far the greatest form of water contaminant leading to disease. Secondary but serious pollutants include arsenic, industrial solvents, pesticides, chromate and hundreds of others. A recent calamity involves millions of people in Bangladesh and Bengal, where drilling tube wells in order to avoid the seriously microbial-contaminated surface water then exposed the population to serious arsenic poisoning. Nanotechnology is likely to improve methods of cleaning water at both municipal plants and by individual users.
We are developing nano solutions aimed at removing microbes and arsenic in portable as well as point of use ("POU") applications. NanoCeram® is a filter media we developed based on nano alumina fibers 2 nanometers in diameter. When assembled into a cartridge it is capable of retaining greater than 99.9999% of bacteria, virus, cysts (protozoa) and general turbidity even at high rates of flow. The filter is a simple flow-through device that will be incorporated into portable water purifiers for campers and military, residential filters (faucet-level, under-the-sink, refrigerator) and gravity flow devices such as pitchers. The filter's cost is low enough to make it a candidate for third world users. Other markets include water purification for dental, hospital (e.g.-endotoxin filtration) and DNA/protein separation for pharmaceutical manufacture.
The first of third-party certified NanoCeram filters will become commercially available early in 2005. Much of the filter's development is being sponsored by NASA for purifying recirculated water and by the U S Air Force for a portable water purifier. The NanoCeram® media is also being adapted as a collector/concentrator of bio terror agents, to enhance bio detectors.
A companion product is a granular arsenic sorbent, capable of retaining both forms of arsenic at levels below 10 µg/liter, the newer, more rigorous standard adopted by EPA and WHO. Its proprietary composition includes two different nano materials, resulting in hard granules that are resistant to attrition. Its arsenic capacity exceeds that of known materials.
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