A Tanzanian chemical engineer has designed an innovative filter using nanotechnology to purify water. Jim Drury reports.
It's good enough to drink, but just seconds before this water was full of dirt and bacteria. Tanzanian scientist Askwar Hilonga has created this filter. He says it removes 99.9 percent of bacteria, micro-organisms and viruses. SOUNDBITE (English) TANZANIAN DR ASKWAR HILONGA, CHEMICAL ENGINEER SAYING: "This is clean, safe drinking water." His creation uses nanotechnology to filter out contaminants from dirty water. Gravity pulls the water down through a series of buckets connected by tubes. The buckets contain sand with a layer of 'good' bacteria on top, which eat the microbes that contain diseases like Typhoid. The sand's magnetic quality also kills other bacteria as the water filters through it. The final bucket uses nanomaterials to filter out any remaining microbes. In short, it's an invisible biological 'net' which stops bacteria from passing through, but allows the water to reach the final bucket bacteria free. SOUNDBITE (English) TANZANIAN DR. ASKWAR HILONGA, CHEMICAL ENGINEER, SAYING: "In Tanzania, 70 percent of households, of nine million households, are not using any kind of a filter. That is how big the market is. That is in Tanzania alone, nine million households. Now imagine in Kenya, Uganda, Ethiopia, sub-Saharan Africa, India and elsewhere. So the market is very big." The product is already proving popular with the villagers of Arusha. This housewife used to drink water from the river, suffering various diseases such as Typhoid as a result. She says buying the filter has changed her life. It can be tailored to absorb anything from bacteria and viruses to copper and fluoride. A single filter can supply many litres of clean water a day. Hilonga hopes the filter could help communities across Africa drink water without risking their health.