- Title: SOUTH AFRICA: Researchers invent water purification 'tea bag'
- Date: 8th September 2010
- Summary: KHAYELITSHA, NEAR CAPE TOWN, SOUTH AFRICA (FILE) (REUTERS) STAGNANT AND CONTAMINATED WATER CONTAINING ALGAE IN STREAM RUNNING ALONGSIDE TOWNSHIP WIDE VIEW OF TOWNSHIP WOMAN THROWS WATER FROM BUCKET ONTO GROUND
- Embargoed: 23rd September 2010 13:00
- Location: South Africa
- Country: South Africa
- Topics: Health,Science / Technology
- Reuters ID: LVAPVJVIAA2XC8RERBBBP9NC7A5
- Story Text: Scientists at South Africa's Stellenbosch University on the outskirts of Cape Town, say they have invented a high-tech disposable filter that looks like a tea bag and cleans highly polluted water.
The sachet was developed after years of research on water purification, nanotechnology and food microbiology.
Experts are currently meeting in Stockholm, Sweden to discuss water purity at the annual World Water Week. The UN says 2 million tons of sewage and industrial and agricultural waste are discharged into the world's water every day.
Microbiologist Professor and Dean of the Faculty of Science at the university, Dr. Eugene Cloete says the tea bag filter will provide easy access to clean drinking water for communities across Africa.
The tea bag is fitted on top of a bottle and cleans the water as it is poured out. There are also plans to commercialise the tea bag into a product that can be used on hiking or camping trips.
"There are approximately 1.2 billion people in the world today that do not have access to potable water. In Africa alone, 300 million people do not have access to portable water. This invention here will make it possible for people to treat the water that they have in their hand when they collect it from a river, a well or a conventional water source and this then will have a major impact to bring portable water to people who currently don't have the access," said Cloete.
The university recently patented the invention which the scientists believe will also be helpful in curbing the spread of water borne diseases like cholera. Ninety percent of all cholera cases in the world occur in Africa.
"Another significant thing here is that there are many people in the developing world, specifically Sub-Saharan Africa which are HIV-AIDS positive, they would normally die from a cholera infection because their immune system is compromised. If they use this filter, this will remove cholera, not only remove the cholera, it will also kill the cholera and it will affect the quality of life and the longevity of people that are HIV-AIDS positive," said Cloete.
The inside of the tea bag is coated with a thin film of biocides which kill disease-causing germs while the bag itself is filled with active carbon granules that remove all harmful chemicals. Researchers say that each filter can clean one litre of the most polluted water making it safe to drink.
"This technology that we've developed, not only do we remove the contaminants and specifically the microbial contaminants, the harmful bacteria and we kill them, whereas none of the other products do that at the moment, they contain mostly activated carbon, which will remove most of the harmful chemicals that you will find in polluted water but not the micro-organisms and where they do remove the micro-organisms, they don't kill the micro-organisms," said Cloete.
The invention has become one of the first major projects of the new Stellenbosch University Water Institute, an initiative established to search for lasting solutions to the country and continent's water problems.
The tea bag filter is currently being tested by the South African Bureau of Standards, after which the team hopes to begin distribution to the public.
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