Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Purifying Murky Drinking Water

Safe drinking water is difficult to obtain in many areas of the world. Different kinds of water require different purification techniques. For example, clear water is fairly easily purified using a method called SODIS (pictured below), while murky water, which is all that many individuals in developing countries have access to, remains difficult to treat. However, a scientist at Michigan Technological University has found a way to purify muddy water.

Joshua Pearce discovered that sodium chloride causes flocculation- the process through which clay settles out of water. While adding salt to water might seem counterproductive, according to Pearce, "the water has a lower sodium concentration than Gatorade" and is still safe to drink. Once the water is no longer murky, it can be easily purified using the SODIS treatment, which relies on radiation from the sun. Next, Pearce is running tests on different kinds of clay and soil to see where else this process might be useful.

Click here to read Michigan Tech's press release about the findings, and here to access Pearce's paper, "Optimizing the Solar Water Disinfection (SODIS) Method by Decreasing Turbidity with NaCL."

Image via Michigan Tech News