Inexpensive System Can Disinfect Water

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WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind., Sept. 30 (UPI) — A new technology using UV light from sunlight can disinfect drinking water for large parts of the world’s population easily and cheaply, U.S. researchers say.

A team of Purdue University researchers says the system, in which sunlight is captured by a parabolic reflector and focused onto a UV-transparent pipe through which water flows continuously, could help the world’s 800 million people who lack safe drinking water.

“We’ve been working on UV disinfection for about 20 years,” Ernest R. Blatchley III, a professor of civil engineering, said in a Purdue release Thursday. “All of our work up until a couple years ago dealt with UV systems based on an artificial UV source. What we are working on more recently is using ultraviolet radiation from the sun.”

The researchers say there were motivated to develop a practical, inexpensive water-treatment technology for developing nations.

“The water available for people to drink in many developing countries hasn’t been treated to remove contaminants, including pathogenic microorganisms,” Blatchley said. “As a result, thousands of children die daily from diarrhea and its consequences, including dehydration.

“Half of the world’s hospital beds are occupied by people who are sickened by the water they drink.”

The researchers say their system, costing less than $100 for materials, was able to inactive E. coli bacteria and that improvements should prove effective against other deadly pathogens.

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