An innovation in liquid metal chemistry could help one tenth of the planet’s population get access to clean drinking water at very low cost following breakthrough research from UNSW Sydney and RMIT.
UNSW and RMIT researchers have discovered a revolutionary and cheap way to make filters that can turn water contaminated with heavy metals into safe drinking water in a matter of minutes.
Recent UNSW SHARP hire Professor Kourosh Kalantar-zadeh and his former colleagues at RMIT showed that nano-filters made of aluminium oxide could be cheaply produced using virtually no energy from a fixed amount of liquid metal gallium.
In a paper published in Advanced Functional Materials, lead author Dr Ali Zavabeti (RMIT) and Professor Kalantar-zadeh explained that when a chunk of aluminium is added to the core of liquid gallium at room temperature, layers of aluminium oxide are quickly produced at the surface of the gallium.
The authors discovered that these aluminium oxide nano-sheets were highly porous and went on to prove they were suitable for filtering both heavy metal ions and oil contamination at unprecedented, ultra-fast rates.
Professor Kalantar-zadeh, who was recently awarded an ARC Australian Laureate Fellowship soon after joining UNSW’s School of Chemical Engineering, said that low cost and portable filters produced by this new liquid metal based manufacturing process could be used by people without access to clean drinking water to remove substances like lead and other toxic metals in a matter of minutes.
“Because it’s super porous, water passes through very rapidly,” Professor Kalantar-zadeh said.
“Lead and other heavy metals have a very high affinity to aluminium oxide. As the water passes through billions of layers, each one of these lead ions get attracted to one of these aluminium oxide sheets.
“But at the same time, it’s very safe because with repeated use, the water flow cannot detach the heavy metal ions from the aluminium oxide.”
Professor Kalantar-zadeh believes the technology could be put to good use in Africa and Asia in places where heavy metal ions in the water are at levels well beyond safe human consumption. It is estimated that 790 million people, or one in 10 of the Earth’s population, do not have access to clean water.
“If you’ve got bad quality water, you just take a gadget with one of these filters with you,” he said.
“You pour the contaminated water in the top of a flask with the aluminium oxide filter. Wait two minutes and the water that passes through the filter is now very clean water, completely drinkable.
“And the good thing is, this filter is cheap.”
There are portable filtration products available that do remove heavy metals from water, but they are comparatively expensive, often costing more than $100.
By contrast, aluminium oxide filters produced from liquid gallium could be produced for as little as 10 cents, making them attractive to prospective manufacturers.
“Up until now, to produce aluminium oxide, you need to process aluminium at above 1000 degrees or use other energy intensive processes,” Professor Kalantar-zadeh said.
“It would normally consume so much energy to make anything like this filter, making it hugely expensive.
“Now we’re talking about something you can do even under the sun in summer at 35 degrees.”
While aluminium is a plentiful and cheap metal, gallium is relatively expensive. But what makes gallium the hero in the process is the fact that it remains pure and unchanged after each production of aluminium oxide.
“You just add aluminium to the gallium and out comes aluminium oxide when its surface is exposed to water. You can use gallium again and again. Gallium never participates in the reaction,” Professor Kalanter-zadeh said.
Professor Kalantar-zadeh said the manufacture process is so cheap and requiring such low expenditure of energy, these filters could even be made out of a kitchen.
“We are publishing this concept and releasing it to the public domain, so people around the world can use the idea for free and implement it for enhancing the quality of their lives,” he said.
“This is all about a new paradigm. We haven’t even begun to explore how we can use liquid metals as a base for manufacturing things that are cheap, green and safe for humans.”
The Latest on: Water purification
via Google News
The Latest on: Water purification
- Meridian to build treatment facility to lower manganese levels from drinking water wellon November 30, 2019 at 11:41 am
MERIDIAN — The city of Meridian will build a drinking water treatment facility for a well that's temporarily out of service due to high manganese levels. At a Nov. 26 work session, the Meridian City ...
- LifeStraw, the take-anywhere water filter, is 20% off on Amazon for Black Fridayon November 29, 2019 at 12:35 pm
LifeStraw is an award-winning bacteria and pathogen filter that tucks neatly into your backpack and remains sealed until you really need it.
- Magnetic nanoparticles with ionic liquids for water purificationon November 29, 2019 at 6:56 am
In many parts of the world, access to clean drinking water is far from certain. Filtration of large volumes of water, however, is slow and impractical. In the journal Angewandte Chemie, scientists ...
- Water Treatment Biocides Market Global Status and Outlook 2019-2024on November 29, 2019 at 5:03 am
Nov 29, 2019 (Market Insight Reports via COMTEX) -- Global Water Treatment Biocides Market Research Report published by market insight reports explores the current outlook in global and key regions ...
- Boiler Water Treatment Chemicals Market Growth Analysis, Developments, Opportunities and Forecast 2020-2029on November 28, 2019 at 2:55 am
Nov 28, 2019 (WiredRelease via COMTEX) -- “A Precise market analysis on Global Boiler Water Treatment Chemicals Market | Know Up Trends And More About Industry Tycoons, Emerging Growth Factors, ...
- New water treatment plant gets green light from Biddeford Planning Boardon November 28, 2019 at 2:32 am
Already, the company has begun upgrading water lines, and as of last week, it is one step closer in its plan to build a new water treatment facility in Biddeford. On Nov. 20, the Biddeford Planning ...
- The best under-sink water filteron November 28, 2019 at 12:03 am
If hard tap water makes it difficult to drink from your faucet, consider filtering it with an under-sink water filter. When you install an under-sink water filter, you can drink clean and tasty water ...
- Portland approves $51 million contract to design water treatment planton November 27, 2019 at 8:34 pm
The Portland City Council approved a $51 million contract Wednesday to design a planned water filtration plant east of Gresham. Commissioners also voted to move forward with building plans estimated ...
- Portland Approves $51 Million Design Contract For Controversial Water Filtration Planton November 27, 2019 at 1:45 pm
Portland city leaders reluctantly approved a $51 million design contract for a controversial water filtration plant Wednesday, a significant next step for a project where estimated costs have ...
via Bing News