A new water purification technology using only hydrogen and air is “millions of times more effective” at killing viruses and bacteria than traditional commercial methods, according to a study published today in the journal Nature Catalysis.
Researchers at from Cardiff University say the findings could revolutionize water disinfection technologies and provide an unprecedented opportunity to bring clean water to communities that need it most.
“On-site generation of hydrogen peroxide could provide clean, potable water for communities in the world’s poorest countries,” say the researchers.
Instant Hydrogen Peroxide
Your The new method works with a gold and palladium catalyst that takes up hydrogen and oxygen to form hydrogen peroxide, a commonly used disinfectant that is currently produced on an industrial scale.
Over four million tons of hydrogen peroxide is used in factories every year manufactured, where it is then transported and stored to the locations where it will be used. This means that stabilizing chemicals are often added to the solutions during the production process to prevent decomposition, but these reduce their effectiveness as disinfectants.
Another common approach to disinfecting water is to add chlorine. But chlorine can react with naturally occurring compounds in water to form compounds that can be toxic to humans.
The ability to produce hydrogen peroxide at the point of use would increase both the efficacy and as well as safety issues overcome with commercial methods.
Water purification technology “100,000,000 times” better at killing germs
In their study, the team tested the sanitizing effectiveness of commercially available hydrogen peroxide versus chlorine to their new catalytic method.
Each was tested for its ability to kill Escherichia coli under identical conditions, followed by subsequent analysis to determine the processes by which the bacteria were killed using each method.
The team showed that when the catalyst brought hydrogen and oxygen together to form hydrogen peroxide, the same hearly produced a series of highly reactive compounds that the team showed to be responsible for the antibacterial and antiviral effects. and not the hydrogen peroxide itself.
The catalyst-based process has been shown to be 10,000,000 times more effective at killing bacteria than an equivalent amount of industrial hydrogen peroxide. And it was 100,000,000 times more effective than chlorination under the same conditions.
In addition, the catalyst-based process has been shown to be more effective at killing bacteria and viruses in a shorter time when compared to the other two compounds.
Cheap, fast water purification for billions of people
It is estimated that around 785 million people lack access to water and 2.7 billion suffer from water stress at least once a month per year.
Furthermore, poor sanitation – a problem for around 2.4 billion people around the world – can lead to deadly diarrheal diseases, including cholera and typhoid, and other waterborne diseases.
“The significantly enhanced bactericidal and virucidal activities achieved when reacting hydrogen and oxygen with our catalyst, rather than using commercial hydrogen peroxide or chlorination, demonstrate the potential to revolutionize water disinfection technologies around the world said co-author Graham Hutchings.
“We now have a proven one-step process where, apart from the catalyst, contaminated water and electricity are the only requirements to achieve disinfection.” /p>
” Crucially, this process offers the ability to rapidly disinfect water for a period of time when traditional methods are ineffective, while preventing the formation of dangerous compounds and biofilms that allow bacteria and viruses to thrive can.”
Study: “A residue-free approach to water disinfection by in-situ catalytic generation ng of reactive oxygen species”Photo: by Juan Salamanca from PexelsAuthors: Richards , T., Harrhy, J.H., Lewis, R.J. et al. Published in: Nat Catal (2021). https://doi.org/10.1038/s41929-021-00642-w Published date: July 1, 2021
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