Texas researchers invent new cup that purifies water contaminated during natural disasters – DNyuz

Texas researchers invent new cup that purifies water contaminated during natural disasters

Austin, Texas – A team from the University of Texas at Austin developed a mug-sized, cube-shaped device that can use battery-generated electricity to eliminate bacteria from contaminated water.

The new cup is intended to give communities access to safe drinking water in the event of severe weather.

“When our water infrastructure is down — no water, no gas and no electricity — we need point-of-use devices for cleaning water we can get out of ponds, streams or rivers,” said D. Emma Fan, an associate professor in the Cockrell School of Engineering’s Walker Department of Mechanical Engineering, who led the project. “We believe our device can someday fill that need.”

Researchers tested a 3D-printed prototype of the device by cleaning 2- to 3-ounce samples of water from a creek in Austin.

Their experiments showed that the device was able to clean 99. 997% of E. coli bacteria from the water within approximately 20 minutes.

The device, which looks like a cup, purifies the water using electricity. After water has been poured in the cup-like device, an electrode with foam insulation is used to run electricity through.

This electric field causes E. coli to “swim”, or enter the electrode branches. The water is then clean and drinkable.

According to the researchers, it takes only a few minutes for the device to purify the water. However, this can continue to work on a continuous basis for several hours.

To power the new device, users could turn to batteries, such as a car battery, and solar panels.

Having alternate sources of energy allows the device to be used during power outages, which frequently occur as a result of severe weather events.

Researchers also noted that the device can provide a safer and simpler alternative to water filtration methods that are currently available.

They compared the effectiveness of different water filtration methods. They said that disinfectant pills could release harmful oxidants if consumed, while reverse osmosis requires high pressure, and solar steaming relies on constant sunlight.

Additionally, researchers noted the device is more cost-effective than many other water filtration methods, as it costs less than $2 to create the electrode.

The researchers are now looking into ways to commercialize the device and next want to streamline the design of the cup.

Plus, they want to further simplify the process of inserting and removing the electrodes.

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