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New UD technology removes viruses from drinking water

University of Delaware researchers have developed an inexpensive, nonchlorine-based technology that can remove harmful microorganisms, including viruses, from drinking water.

UD's patented technology, developed jointly by researchers in the College of Agriculture and Natural Resources and the College of Engineering, incorporates highly reactive iron in the filtering process to deliver a chemical "knock-out punch" to a host of notorious pathogens, from E. coli to rotavirus.

The new technology could dramatically improve the safety of drinking water around the globe, particularly in developing countries. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), over a billion people--one-sixth of the world's population--lack access to safe water supplies.

Four billion cases of diarrheal disease occur worldwide every year, resulting in 1.8 million deaths, primarily infants and children in developing countries. Eighty-eight percent of this disease is attributed to unsafe water supplies, inadequate sanitation and hygiene.

In the United States, viruses are the target pathogenic microorganisms in the new Ground Water Rule under the Environmental Protection Agency's Safe Drinking Water Act, which took effect on Jan. 8.

"What is unique about our technology is its ability to remove viruses--the smallest of the pathogens--from water supplies," Pei Chiu, an associate professor in UD's Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, said.

Chiu collaborated with Yan Jin, a professor of environmental soil physics in UD's plant and soil science department, to develop the technology. They then sought the expertise of virologist Kali Kniel, an assistant professor in the animal and food sciences department, who has provided critical assistance with the testing phase.

"A serious challenge facing the water treatment industry is how to simultaneously control microbial pathogens, disinfectants such as chlorine, and t
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Contact: Tracey Bryant
tbryant@udel.edu
302-831-8185
University of Delaware
26-Feb-2007


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