MIT Researchers Discover Sapwood can Filter 99% E.coli from Water

Published By : 28 Feb 2014 | Published By : QYRESEARCH

A team of mechanical engineers from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) have found a novel way to filter drinking water using sapwood taken from a tree branch. The study found that it was possible to filter up to 99% of E.coli from water that can be used for drinking. If developed and implemented practically, this method could prove to be a cheap and efficient method for developing countries to provide safe drinking water to their people. 

For this experiment, the team made use of a one-inch segment of a branch taken from a white pine tree. While the researchers used a white pine tree, they said that other tree segments might be just as effective. 

The segment taken from the tree was stripped off its bark portion and the team then proceeded to insert this segment into a plastic tube and fasten it securely using a metal clamping band.

Following this, water containing E.coli was poured through the tube so that it passed through the segment of wood. Researchers found that the water that was filtered through the wood had been eliminated of more than 99% of its E.coli content. They also noted that a single one-inch segment of sapwood could be used for filtering anywhere between 4 and 6 of water a day—this meets the daily water requirement of one person.

These findings were published by the team of mechanical engineers in the February issue of PLOS One. Rohit Karnik, a senior co-author of the study said that he happened to listen to a talk on how water flows through branches of trees and plants. This made him realize that the liquid will most certainly have to pass through the xylem membranes. The results were as expected when Karnik and his team practically applied this thought.

While the usage of these wood-based filters in heavily polluted water remains to be tested and verified, experts from the National Sanitation Foundation International said that it could be a low-tech technique for water purification. 
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