Israel & US: Really, Really Small Ways For Purifying Water
Opening the topic of nanotechnology at a dinner conversation among fellow TreeHuggers could be just as dangerous as mentioning the environmental benefits of GMO or artificial rain. But since this TreeHugger is already indulging in risk-taking behaviour by living in the Middle East, she is willing to open the forum. Here goes: a partnership for purifying water by way of nanotechnology was recently formed between the US and Israel, where both countries are to focus on four projects expected to yield extraordinary results for water purification within the next five years. PDF of workshop. The decision was the outcome of a bi-national workshop in March held between the Israel National Nanotechnology Initiative, and the Center of Advanced Materials for Purification of Water with Systems (WaterCAMPWS) at the University of Illinois in the US.
According to Nanotechnology Now, Prof. Rafi Semiat, Director of the Grand Water Research Institute at the Technion in Israel said that while the group will promote all 12 nanotech-based projects that were outlined at the workshop, special focus is being given to four projects that can provide benefits for water purification.
Richard Sustich, Industrial and Governmental Development Manager for the WaterCAMPWS, in a press release about the initiative, said that there is special excitement over the proposed biosensor project, which may result in new tools and methods for water systems operation and reduction of long-term maintenance costs.
"Today's water infrastructure is run on a one-size-fits-all concept." Sustich noted. "Systems are assembled from standard components, and maintenance relies more on manufacturer's recommendations than on a direct understanding of what's really happening during treatment. This works, but it's very wasteful."
According to the workshop abstract the four targeted projects will be:
1. Development of new, porous polymer-based ultra-filtration membranes with special coatings that exhibit higher flux and higher resistance to contamination as well as robust molecular sieving abilities.
2. Development of coatings with antimicrobial capabilities that can minimize biological attachment and biofilm formation that can be applied to current generation membranes that are used for drinking water, wastewater and desalination.
3. Study of mixed metal oxide nanostructured materials for the destruction of biological toxins in surface water and groundwater, using photocatalysis and oxidation.
4. Development of whole-cell microbial biosensors to detect minute metabolite excretions from newly-forming biofilms.