Water is essential to our wellbeing, providing many health benefits, helping our bodies run efficiently, and assisting us with everyday tasks. But not everyone has access to drinkable water. Thankfully, the same technological and scientific innovation that brought us smartphones and Wi-Fi allows us to find sustainable, long-term solutions for water conservation and treatment. Together, let’s look at a few ways that technology is changing the future of water.
Created by Vestergaard, this portable drinking straw generated buzz in 2010 for its innovative way of filtering dirty water and making it safe to drink. It works because unsafe water is pulled through a filtration system as you sip the water. As it passes through a membrane microfilter, contaminants like bacteria, parasites, microplastics, and dirt are blocked and unable to pass through. Sterile, safe water then flows into a clean chamber for drinking.
With the help of an additional activated carbon filter, the straw purifies a minimum of 1,000 liters of water, removing 99.9 percent of the bacteria and parasites through its unique filtration system. Best of all, its uses aren’t just limited to those who live in scarce water regions; they have kinds of filters and vessels that can be used at home, on the go, and emergency preparedness.
How’s My Waterway?
The Environmental Protection Agency encourages people to learn more about their local waterways and the condition of their local waters through their How’s My Waterway page. By plugging in your location, you can find out the shape of local streams and lakes, and other waterways throughout the U.S.
You can check your waterways for pollution and other issues, stay up to date on restoration projects and protection efforts. The page also shows drinking water metrics and assessments and water quality information based on data provided by state, federal, tribal, and local agencies.
Scientists at Michigan State University are getting creative with their search for new water purification and filtration methods. The team heading the project developed a water filtration technology that turns cow manure into filtered water used as a fertilizer. Experts say that 1,000 cows can produce up to 10 million gallons of waste a year. And with manure being mostly made up of water, it’s an impactful way to not only reduce the world’s carbon footprint but also bring water to places without access to clean drinking water.
The new technology uses anaerobic digestion, which breaks down the waste using bacteria to produce energy. When it’s combined with a reverse osmosis system called ultrafiltration, it results in the water byproduct. Currently, the system produces 50 gallons of clean water from 100 gallons of manure, but they aim to bump the number up to 65, further changing the future of water.
Nanotechnology for Water Purification
Cheap filtration systems have been created in the past, but none of them like the system designed by Thalappil Pradeep and his colleagues at the Indian Institute of Technology Madras. There are 780 million people in the world who don’t have access to clean drinking water, and the researchers aim to change that, promising potable water for all.
Clocking in at $16, the inexpensive nanoparticle filtration system, which uses an iron and arsenic-trapping ion to filter water chemically, can clean out hazardous microbes and chemicals from drinking water. Included in its growing list of filtered out contaminants are the usual suspects like bacteria, arsenic, viruses, and lead. And because the filters for microbes and chemicals are separate, users can customize their system, choosing to rid water of microbial contaminants, chemicals, or both.
In the 1960s, Israel pioneered desalination, a process related to reverse osmosis that removes salt and minerals from seawater. The effort came about because the country is 50 percent desert, making it a water insecure area. Today, 60 percent of the country’s domestic water comes from its 5 large plants and 34 smaller plants.
The Earth’s oceans offer a potentially unlimited supply of water, which is enough water for 50 percent of the world’s population. The desalination process happens when seawater is filtered through a semi-permeable membrane that strips the water of its salt and minerals and converts it into freshwater.
Although desalination proves to be a viable option for drought-prone areas such as Saudi Arabia and California, the cost of maintaining the plants and the process is still too expensive to expand to a greater audience.
Places around the world that experience a lot of fog can benefit from this water collecting system. California is the newest to hop on board. Although the technology isn’t new, it’s been upgraded and is making a significant impact in water-stressed areas. A few countries who already use the system include Chile, South Africa, and Peru.
Nonprofit company Dar Si Hmad is responsible for the largest fog-harvesting project in the world. The company uses fog catchers installed in various places including, Monte Boutmezguida, in Morocco. Its process is simple, consisting of a system of vertical nets that trap mist as it passes through. Moisture then trickles into a collection system where it’s filtered and mixed with groundwater. So far, around 6,300 liters can be harvested daily through the project in Morocco.
The Science of Water
The future of water is bright, thanks to scientists and environmentalists’ innovations and goals to better the world. Filtration systems play a key part in the journey to ensure everyone in the world has access to clean drinking water.
At the Science of Water, we’re dedicated to providing Gainesville and Jacksonville Florida residents with the cleanest and most healthy water in their home. But before we can install a whole house water filtration system, we need to test your water and learn about what problems are lurking below.
If you’re interested in our service or want to take a free water test, contact us at (352) 745-7070 for the Gainesville area, or at (904) 580-0000 for the Jacksonville area!