New technology could help developing countries secure access to safe potable water

New sunlight water-purification tech to help developing world

Panasonic has developed a novel water-purification technology using just the power of the Sun to help developing countries secure access to safe, drinkable water.

Capable of removing dangerous pollutants from water at high speed, the technology was introduced at the recent Eco Products trade show in Tokyo.

The system relies on photocatalytical compounds and UV light to remove toxic substances including arsenic, hexavalent chromium, bacteria and various agricultural and pharmaceutical residues from the water. 

Panasonic has used titanium dioxide as a photocalyst, distributed in extremely fine particles. When exposed to ultraviolet rays, the photocatalyst forms reactive oxygen molecules  to bind the contaminants. 

Though highly efficient, the method was previously considered impractical due to the difficulty in subsequent removal of such tiny grains from the cleaned water.

However, Panasonic designed an improvement in the system by binding titanium oxide to zeolite. Unlike other approaches, this technique doesn’t reduce the activity of the titanium oxide particles.

Moreover, since the two particles are bound together by electrostatic force, there is no need for binder chemicals.

The company wants to build water-purification trucks equipped with the system that could be conveniently driven to areas in need of safe, drinkable water. Eventually, local water supply operators in developing countries could use the system in water treatment facilities.

However, Panasonic admitted, costs of the system would have to be lowered to make the technology financially interesting.

The number one market, the company foresees, could be India, with approximately 70 per cent of its population without access to tap water. Groundwater in many Indian regions is contaminated with arsenic from Himalayan ore veins and hexavalent chromium from leather tanneries. It is estimated that up to 50 million Indians suffer from health problems as a result of drinking chemically contaminated water.

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