Water treatment and purification technologies are necessary for both sanitation purposes and to produce an adequate supply of drinking water. Technologies to make wastewater safe for human consumption and usage aim to remove pathogenic and hazardous contaminants from the water. Currently, filtration is the most widely employed method to remove pathogens and contaminants from water to make it safe for drinking. Unfortunately, many filtration devices only remove bacteria, but not viral particles.
Water purifiers can be used to remove, kill or inactivate all types of pathogenic microorganisms including bacteria and viruses. Many purifiers use either chemicals like iodine to kill viruses or an electro-static charge to bind and remove them from the water. Larger scale water purification technologies include ultraviolet systems, ozone systems, reverse osmosis systems, microfiltration and ultrafiltration systems, ion exchange, electrodialysis, electrodialysis reversal and electrodeionization systems. These systems are energy intensive and some require a larger footprint and established infrastructure for water supply.
FAU researchers have developed a low-cost, low-power water purification system capable of producing potable water from untreated surface water, wastewater, and seawater by utilizing solar thermal energy. The technology is able to separate pathogenic organisms and other impurities to produce potable water at the point-of-use. The system evaporates water vapor from the feed water and directs it through a carbon black-coated membrane to produce purified distilled water. Potable water is achieved with no electricity and has a higher production rate of distilled water per unit area of solar heat absorber than existing solar stills. Proof-of-concept studies have shown the technology is capable of producing 8.56 L/m2 of distilled water per day. Additionally, it has been estimated that 1 liter of produced distilled water would cost around $1.90.