There is no resource on Earth more precious than water. Every single living organism on this planet would be unable to survive without it.
It’s shocking to think, however, that so many have trouble accessing it. At least 1.8 billion people globally use a contaminated drinking water source, according to the World Health Organization, and they predict that “by 2025, half of the world’s population will be living in water-stressed areas.”
Nowhere has this issue been more visible than the 2016 games in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. Both the pool water and the natural water have been under intense scrutiny for months and are likely to remain so. And though their problems are well documented, there are thousands of other cities around the world struggling to provide enough clean water.
So how can we solve it? It looks as though nanotechnology has a few bright ideas.
If there’s one thing technology can help us do, it’s be efficient. Puralytics, an Oregon-based water purification system company, has created a nano-coated mesh that makes water purification simpler, cleaner and more efficient in two ways:
1. Purification method
In most water purification systems, chemicals are placed into the water so they can bond to contaminants. The water is then pushed through some sort of filter. The mesh emits a range of wavelengths that actually break up the contaminants at a molecular level, and this means no filters need to be changed and there's no waste to dispose of.
With their most powerful system, Puralytics purification systems can clean up to 1,000 gallons of water a day. In fact, they sent two of their systems into Nepal in the aftermath of the devastating earthquake and it was enough to provide water for an entire village in need.
As we mentioned earlier, safe-water scarcity is a major problem. It also mostly affects people living in very poor and remote places. If the problem is to be solved, cost is a critical factor.
Again, nanotechnology has the perfect solution.
Scientists conducting lab experiments have created a nanostructure from a molybdenum disulfide, an ordinary (and very cheap) industrial lubricant, squashed into layers a few atoms thick. When exposed, it can absorb the entire range of solar energy and activate the same reactions as the Puralytics system. Even more, this nanostructure “killed more than 99.999 percent of bacteria in just 20 minutes.”
Talk about a quick fix.
The hero we need
Nanotechnology is proving to be everything we need in a solution to the world’s water crisis. It’s efficient, good for the environment and extremely cost effective. Some major players, including the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, are recognizing its potential. Where we go next is unclear, but the building blocks are there and more are being added every day.