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AquaPulse: Portable, off-the-grid water purification

Microengineered electric field sterilizer inactivates bacteria, parasites, and viruses

AquaPulse is an off-the-grid, portable water purification device that could help bring fresh water to the millions of people who currently rely on contaminated water sources for drinking, cooking, and cleaning. Credit: Michael Coatney / Future Scientist

Globally, more than 2 billion people are forced to use a drinking water source that is contaminated with bacteria, parasites, and other pathogens, and an estimated 502,000 people die each year from diarrhea as a result of unsafe water. While a majority of the world has access to improved water sources, many are often contaminated; thus, a need for effective water treatment at the point of consumption remains. Existing solutions use filters that require regular replacement and can easily become clogged, making it simply too expensive for many poorer and rural communities. Alternatives to filtration include treatment with chlorine or other chemicals, but chlorine can react with any organic material in contaminated water, making it less effective at eliminating pathogens.

 

Filtration is not a great approach to cleaning highly contaminated water, because any filter will quickly get clogged with debris. We hope our filterless system can safeguard the health of people living in regions with unsanitary drinking water and in emergency recovery efforts following disasters like earthquakes and hurricanes.

Richard Novak

AquaPulse is a new, portable, off-the-grid water purification system that uses electricity to kill bacteria, parasites, and viruses, making contaminated water safer to drink without the need for expensive filters or machinery. Its microfluidic design is highly efficient, allowing it to rapidly cleanse drinking water and last a long time before needing to be serviced or replaced. Initially, the Wyss team aims to achieve a processing volume of 1 liter of water per minute.

Blue dye added to the AquaPulse device shows how water moves through it while being purified using pulsed electric field sterilization. Credit: Wyss Institute at Harvard University

This technology is currently being de-risked at the Wyss Institute.

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