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Scientists develop innovative way to remove viruses from drinking water

Israeli and American researchers develop novel membrane filtration methods to fill a critical need worldwide.

(Photo by Benutzer:Alex Anlicker | CC BY-SA 3.0)

A team of Israeli, German and US researchers have developed novel ultrafiltration membranes that significantly improve the process of removing viruses from treated municipal wastewater used as drinking water by cities suffering water shortages.The new approach for virus pathogen removal was developed by a team from Ben-Gurion University of the Negev (BGU), University Duisburg-Essen, Germany, and the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign (UIUC).

       “This is an urgent matter of public safety,” the researchers said. “Insufficient removal of human adenovirus in municipal wastewater, for example, has been detected as a contaminant in US drinking-water sources, including the Great Lakes and worldwide.”

Adenoviruses can cause a wide range of illnesses that include the common cold, sore throat (pharyngitis), bronchitis, pneumonia, diarrhea, pink eye (conjunctivitis), fever, bladder inflammation or infection (cystitis), inflammation of the stomach and intestines (gastroenteritis), and neurological disease, reports the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The “zwitterionic polymer hydrogel” repels the viruses from approaching and passing through the membrane.

Norovirus, which can cause nausea, vomiting and diarrhea, is the most common cause of viral gastroenteritis in humans, and is estimated to be the second leading cause of gastroenteritis-associated mortality, according to BGU. In the study, which was published in the March edition of the journal Water Research, Prof. Moshe Herzberg of the Department of Desalination and Water Treatment in the Zuckerberg Institute for Water Research at BGU and his group grafted a special hydrogel coating onto a commercial ultrafiltration membrane.

The “zwitterionic polymer hydrogel” repels the viruses from approaching and passing through the membrane. It contains both positive and negative charges and improves efficiency by weakening virus accumulation on the modified filter surface.

The result, the international scientists report, was a significantly higher rate of removal of waterborne viruses, including the human norovirus and adenovirus. 

    This article was originally published by Israel21c. Click here to continue reading the full article

ISRAEL21c Staff

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