Using Wood to Purify Water

Lotte Biesheuvel
March 6th 2014

Clean drinking water is vital for all human beings. But unfortunately, not everybody has access to safe and uncontaminated water. 3,4 million people, especially children, die annually from water-related diseases.
There are multiple solutions to provide clean drinking water, even in very remote areas. Some are useful, but most of them are also expensive. Using wood might be the most inexpensive, accessible and simple way to clean water, so far.

Researchers at the MIT Institute recently discovered an amazing low-tech way to filter water. Just a small piece of sapwood can filter out more than 99% of the E. Coli bacteria. The size of the pores in sapwood allows water to run through while blocking most types of bacteria. The pores contain xylem tissue, which makes it possible to transport the sap up to the length of a tree.

At the moment researcher are trying to figure out which plants are best suitable to purify water. Unfortunately the pores are to big to filter salt from the water, so this technique is not suitable for sea water. But luckily there is a lot of groundwater that can be filtered, producing clean drinking water.

It's interesting to see how, very often, the solution lies in the nature!

Source: MIT

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