Saturday, 27 February 2010

Nanotech Water Purification

One of the problems of some parts of the planet now, and which will be a problem for more of the planet in the future, is the availability of pure water to drink. While the underlying politics of recent wars can be linked to land occupation and control of oil reserves, it is likely that in future it will be water that is the underlying bone of contention. And in many parts of the planet, it is not so much a shortage of water but rather a shortage of usable clean water that is the problem.

One of the many applications of Nanotechnology in the environmental space could be a contribution to the water purification process. The traditional approach to purification is to build large plants which perform the treatment process on large scale. But this is susceptible to attack (e.g. bio-terrorists) much more easily than if water is purified at the point of use in many local places. Once the core technology is mainstream, this local approach is also likely to be more cost-effective. Local purification ideally also addresses the particular contaminates affecting the water in an area.

A whole range of nanotechnology could be brought to bear on water purification. This includes smart membranes, nanocatalysts, nanosensors and nanoabsorbants. Combining these into personal water treatment devices which can be programmed to work at the atomic and molecular level will revolutionise one environmental challenge facing the world.

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