As communities around the world struggle to find enough safe water sources for residents, the need for resource-smart water filtration technologies has increased. In some instances, researchers are looking for ways to purify water without harmful chemicals. In other instances, innovation needs are driven by the high amounts of energy used and wastewater created when purifying water. This increased attention to the issues has led to some promising developments.
Membrane water filtration has been around for many decades, but recent advancements are making it more energy efficient. In this system, high-pressure water is forced through a series of special membranes to remove all the impurities from water. This method produces super clean water that's used in many applications including mobile phone production. It's also the same process used by reverse osmosis systems.
Homeowners often prefer reverse osmosis water filtration. They find it cost-effective and love the purity of the water it produces. It even removes unpleasant odors and smells. On a large scale, such as in industrial settings or when treating wastewater, however, it becomes extremely expensive.
To force large amounts of water through a series of membranes, it requires the water to be at extremely high pressure. This requires large amounts of energy. So, any financial savings companies get from reusing wastewater spend it buying energy. New research on this method, however, has found a few possible ways to use reverse osmosis methods in a more energy-efficient manner.
UV Light as a Chlorine Substitute
Water treatment facilities of all kinds have used chlorine to purify water, but this method comes with many different dangers. First, chlorine has to be transported and added to the water. This means chemical burns and spills are a constant risk. This also makes water filtration and treatment more expensive. Then, there are possible health complications caused by years of chlorine consumption. By replacing this chemical with UV light, these issues become nonexistent.
UV light uses a process called inactivation to kill waterborne pathogens. To accomplish this, the light damages the DNA of these microorganisms to prevent them from reproducing. This water treatment method doesn't require any sort of large water tank, creates no byproducts, odor, or taste. Best of all, the pH and other characteristics of the water remain unchanged, so it requires no further treatment. This isn't the case with chlorine and other purification chemicals. UV light purification is already a pretty efficient method, but researchers are looking for ways to reduce the amount of energy required to make the technology more accessible to developing countries.
Electrolysis to Purify Waste Water
Currently being tested on sewage and flood water, electrolysis has become a real possibility in the world of large-scale water filtration. Based on the same scientific concept as water purification tablets, this technology splits hydrogen and oxygen gas killing pathogens at the same time. As byproducts, it creates pure water, hydrogen, oxygen, and solid waste, which can easily be dealt with in a safe manner. Some experts even feel the hydrogen created during this process could be used as fuel should the technology become more widely used.
Electrolysis has potential as a water treatment technology in other areas as well. Some researchers hope it will be able to treat flood water. This could be lifesaving in areas such as Bangladesh that can sometimes go months with no regular access to clean water. The excitement around the potential of this technology has even led some homeowners to build their own electrolysis purification systems.
Membranes, UV light, and electrolysis have all shown promise as effective water filtration techniques. And with the research ongoing in this area, they are sure to improve. For now, homeowners can choose reverse osmosis or UV light systems to solve their water woes.