Potable water treatment technology

Membrane filtration technology is emerging as the technology of choice for safe drinking water. This technology allows removing pathogens, including Cryptosporidium and Giardia cysts and oocysts, which can contaminate drinking water. Traditional membrane technologies, such as Reverse Osmosis and Nanofilters sort water impurities by size requiring high pressures and hence energy to treat water. By looking inspiration in nature we can find Aquaporins, which are selective membrane channel proteins found in the lipid bilayer of living cells that work to transport water across the cell membrane. Aquaporins accomplish this task while excluding any unwanted ions or other polar molecules, making them a perfect model for the formulation of low-energy water filtration systems.

Aquaporins operate at the thermodynamically lowest energy level for water purification. They isolate water molecules based upon electrostatic physical recognition. This means that only water molecules are allowed to pass through the aquaporin channel leading to production of truly pure water. Smaller molecules, for instance nitrates have restricted passage as their electrochemical properties do not “fit”, since the architecture of the aquaporin channel allows water molecules to pass only in single file while electrostatic tuning of the channel interior controls aquaporin selectivity against any charged species.
Currently the Company AquaZ is developing this aquaporin membrane technology for water purification, the process can be gravity-driven, so highly pure water can be obtained with a low-energy water filtration system, which is a big advantage over other membrane technologies or conventional potable water treatment as UV technology.