Researchers develop water purification system for hurricane relief using nanoparticles

October 20, 2005

The National Science Foundation has asked two University of Central Florida researchers to quickly develop a unique water purification system to aid victims of Hurricane Katrina and other disasters.

The professors were awarded a $10,000 startup grant from NSF this month as part of a rapid response program designed to support research that can directly benefit those affected by Katrina. The researchers will submit their research results to NSF in six months. The agency is also encouraging the scientists to connect the Federal Emergency Management Agency and other agencies directly tied to disaster relief for immediate application of any useable technology.

Professors Sudipta Seal from the Department of Mechanical, Materials and Aerospace Engineering and James Taylor from Civil and Environmental Engineering combined their expertise in developing coated nanoparticles and water purification systems, respectively, to propose a portable method for producing safe drinking water from any source.

The key to the process is a naturally created nanoparticle that can kill bacteria that foul membranes used as filters to produce drinking water. In catastrophic situations such as Hurricane Katrina or the recent earthquake in Pakistan, the membranes become so fouled by bacteria that they become unusable for water treatment.

"By introducing nanoparticles into a mobile integrated membrane system, we can create potable water from a variety of sources," said Seal, who also works with the Advanced Materials Processing and Analysis Center.

Taylor, who has conducted water treatment research since 1975, said drinking water could be consistently produced even from wastewater if the fouling bacteria could be killed. Taylor is responsible for more than $10 million in project funding at UCF, including a major desalination effort for Tampa Bay Water and the American Water Works Association Research Foundation.

UCF was able to respond immediately to the need for a water purification system because of the quality research those scholars were already conducting, said M.J. Soileau, vice president for research. Seal and Taylor are part of a team that UCF is assembling to address alternative water sources for Florida, as water issues for the Central Florida region and the state are approaching crisis proportions.

With the seed funding, the researchers hope to develop an adaptable method for producing quality water in any kind of emergency.

Source: University of Central Florida

Explore further: Comet's firework display ahead of perihelion

Related Stories

Comet's firework display ahead of perihelion

August 11, 2015

In the approach to perihelion over the past few weeks, Rosetta has been witnessing growing activity from Comet 67P/Churyumov–Gerasimenko, with one dramatic outburst event proving so powerful that it even pushed away the ...

Antarctic offers insights into life on Mars

July 21, 2015

The cold permafrost of Antarctica houses bacteria that thrive at temperatures below freezing, where water is icy and nutrients are few and far between. Oligotrophs, slow-growing organisms that prefer environments where nutrients ...

Experiments open window on landscape formation

July 2, 2015

University of Oregon geologists have seen ridges and valleys form in real time and—even though the work was a fast-forwarded operation done in a laboratory setting—they now have an idea of how climate change may impact ...

Exposed water ice detected on comet's surface

June 25, 2015

Using the high-resolution science camera on board ESA's Rosetta spacecraft, scientists have identified more than a hundred patches of water ice a few metres in size on the surface of Comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko.

Recommended for you

Clues from ancient Maya reveal lasting impact on environment

September 3, 2015

Evidence from the tropical lowlands of Central America reveals how Maya activity more than 2,000 years ago not only contributed to the decline of their environment but continues to influence today's environmental conditions, ...

How to curb emissions? Put a price on carbon

September 3, 2015

Literally putting a price on carbon pollution and other greenhouse gasses is the best approach for nurturing the rapid growth of renewable energy and reducing emissions.

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.