Some nano progress towards targets on clean water

September 16th, 2008

According to a UN report on the Millenium Development Goals (2008) there are still nearly 1 billion people without access to an improved water source.   The report goes on to suggest that if current progress is maintained the target of 89% having access to improved water supplies will be reached by 2015.   However, the broad picture hides some particularly challenging problems such as arsenic contamination in the Bay of Bengal and mercury contamination in the Andes of Peru.

Many existing technologies for water filtration require chemicals, high pressure (for example, in reverse osmosis) and need electricity.   The claimed advantages of nanotechnology based filters is a high flow rate and low cost.   Yet not many developing countries have any capability with nanotechnology.   Some of the work that Practical Action has done in the past, and is continuing in Peru is attempting to change this through a process of dialogue with all key stakeholders.

Scientists in Mumbai, India (reported by Cleantech) are working on developing water filters based on nanotechnology.   The carbon nanotube could be used to remove arsenic, fluoride, heavy metals and toxic organic chemicals.   But to get technologies difussed to the people who need them will require some co-ordinated effort by all stakeholders, including communities, scientists and NGOs.

It will also be important to ensure that the nanotechnologies are used in a way which does not harm the environment or people.   Let us hope that the scientists in India will work together with emerging groups like the Responsible Nano Forum.

One response to “Some nano progress towards targets on clean water”

  1. Leon David Michaud Says:

    Mercury is not required to extract gold

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