Affordable water purifier collects e-waste metals for re-use

Signal of change / Affordable water purifier collects e-waste metals for re-use

By Sarah LLoyd / 02 Feb 2016

A high school student from Houston has developed a filter that removed 99% of metal from contaminated water in tests. Perry Alagappan's design won this year's Stockholm Junior Water Prize.

Alagappan’s aim was to design a renewable filter that removes e-waste; he did this by developing purified and functionalized carbon nanotubes, which remove metal from water. The filter can be reused by simply rinsing it with vinegar concentrate.

Alagappan estimates that he could sell this product for $20, a much cheaper rate than for many water filters already on the market, which do not collect precious metals, and are not reusable.

Image Source: baselactionnetwork / flickr

So what?

The technology used in this project could revolutionize the way water can be treated and heavy metals recovered.

We are currently generating 42 million tonnes of electronic waste every year. Recycling factories are recovering some of this waste, but metals and chemicals are still discharged into water sources, and can be dangerous when consumed.

This purifier is able to collect these precious metals for re-use, as well as deliver safe water for human consumption.

The UN has set the goal to have clean water available everywhere by 2030. How far could this purifier go towards meeting it? 

This project is going to be kept open source, and if it is sold for the small sum of $20 each, this and its reusability means it will be accessible to a large market. This will also reduce the need for current filter systems, which are expensive and often rely on fossil fuels to power them.


Water Environment Federation Highlights (July 16, 2015) Texas Student Wins 2015 U.S. Stockholm Junior Water Prize for Removing Heavy Metals from Water

World Water Week Press Release (August 25, 2015) American student wins 2015 Stockholm junior water prize for revolutionizing method to remove electronic waste from water

Guardian Sustainable Business (Aug 27, 2015) Texas teenager creates $20 water purifier to tackle toxic e-waste pollution

The Guardian (April 19, 2015) World's mountain of electrical waste reaches new peak of 42m tonnes

What might the implications of this be? What related signals of change have you seen?

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