With the current climate and pollution crisis on earth, there is less drinkable water available for people. Researchers at the University of Texas at Austin have made a new hydrogel tablet that can make one liter of the river water drinkable within a matter of an hour.
Usually, boiling is the technique used to treat water but it may not be always a feasible option as it requires time and energy. Devices like solar stills, graphene filters, and automatic chlorine dispensers, are used alternatively. However, they do not seem to be very successful either.
The new technique brought forward by the researchers does not need a lot of time or energy for the execution. It’s a hydrogel tablet that can purify the water just by getting added to it. It is said to kill more than 99.999 percent of bacteria within an hour. The hydrogel will be removed once it has treated the water and it leaves no chemicals behind.
The tablet produces hydrogen peroxide that combines with activated carbon particles to kill bacteria by interrupting their metabolism. There are no hazardous by-products released in the making.
These tablets can also be used to enhance the activity through solar distillation. It works by concentrating the sunrays to evaporate water and collect it in another container, leaving pollutants behind. This equipment can get jammed with microbes but the hydrogel tablet can be used to address that issue.
Researchers are hopeful in scaling the mechanism up as it is not expensive and easily applicable.
“Our multifunctional hydrogel can make a big difference in mitigating global water scarcity because it is easy to use, highly efficient, and potentially scalable up to mass production,” says Guihua Yu, corresponding author of the study.
The research was published in the journal Advanced Materials.