Innovative Filter to Provide Unlimited Clean Water

Jeremy Nussbaumer holding the DrinkPure filter - Image Credit: Anna Maltsev/ETH Zurich

According to the World Health Organization (WHO) roughly 10% of the world's population (780 million) do not have access to a source of clean drinking water and disease associated with the consumption of this dirty water causes 3.4 million deaths every year. These numbers may be soon taking a tumble as ETH Zurich student Jeremy Nussbaumer has developed a filter for purifying water faster and cheaper than ever possible in the past.

In conjunction with a group of researchers led by Wendelin Stark, head of the Functional Materials Laboratory, the 23-year old student spent an entire year dedicated to researching and developing a fundamentally new way to produce polymer membranes for filtering water.

Nussbaumer states that this new innovation can be simply screwed onto a plastic bottle with polluted water inside and then drank out of like a sippy cup. The device doesn't require a pump or a reservoir and so they could simply be handed out to those who only have access to dirty water and they can be slotted into bottles, giving them unlimited clean water.

The filter, named DrinkPure, is lighter than other filters (weighs less than 100 grams) and is suited for a variety of applications including outdoor use, development aid and travelling. The filter can remove bacteria, viruses and odors from the water it is filtering and it can do this incredibly fast. Its flow pressure is so high that it can purify a litre of water in less than one minute simply by squeezing a bottle with the DrinkPure screwed into the top of it.

It is easier and cheaper to manufacture than most conventional filters and DrinkPure has no movable parts or delicate components. It is therefore strong, robust but also lightweight. Nussbaumer says that the filter is ideal for development aid projects in third world countries.

Speaking exclusively to AZoCleantech, Nussbaumer talks about the product lifespan of the DrinkPure filter below:

The DrinkPure waterfilter is expected to last for over 300 liters, after which the membrane and activated carbon can be replaced very easily over and over again. In the long-term we plan to create facilities, where people can get their filter renewed.

Jeremy Nussbaumer - Project Leader

Another benefit is that the unit is less expensive and easier to manufacture than most conventional filters. These qualities, says Nussbaumer, make the filter ideal for development aid projects.

The Filtering System

DrinkPure has a three-stage filtering system. The first stage, a pre-filter, is able to remove larger particles such as sand or fragments of organic material; the second has an activated carbon powder which removes chemicals and odors from the water; the final stage is the key part of the entire system, the polymer membrane which is responsible for removing bacteria and viruses. This intelligently designed system makes it more reliable than virtually any water filter currently available on the market.

DrinkPure - A Novel Water Filtration Device

Video sourced from: YouTube - Jeremy Nussbaumer

The polymer membrane in the latter stage of the filtering system was patented three years ago by two doctoral students from ETH Zurich. The membrane has potential for other applications other than the purification of water including use in batteries and, as reported by ETH News, a non-toxic outdoor jacket.

African Project

A project was planned a year ago that was designated for developing the unique polymer membrane into a water filter. Nussbaumer was very enthusiastic to be involved with this, so much so that upon completion of his bachelor's degree, he postponed the start of his master's in order to devote all of his time and energy to this project.

The project was very exciting, since water already is, and will be, a huge issue in the future. Fortunately for us, we found a new type of membrane showing excellent test results. Based on this membrane we developed an easy to use and low-cost waterfilter.

The project gave me the chance to create an innovative product, this excited me the most.

Jeremy Nussbaumer - Project Leader

The next stage for this project to be a success is financial support, in order to be able to manufacture large quantities of the filter. Any support provided will be used to purchase the necessary tools to produce the filters. Nussbaumer states that 20% of the funding would be dedicated to the transportation of filters to Africa and 80% to the production costs. The team forecast that the first shipment of filters will be achieved by January 2015.

The No1 Travelling Companion

Whether or not DrinkPure will become commercially available for the general public is yet to be known. Not only is it suitable for development projects in places where there is limited access to water, it is also perfect for travellers and walkers. As Nussbaumer stated, it can be simply screwed into a plastic bottle and used on the move.

The ideal travelling companion - DrinkPure - Image Credit: ETH Zurich

This is certainly a huge step forward in enabling every person, no matter where they are in the world, access to clean and safe water to consume. If funding can be secured for mass production of the DrinkPure filter, then transportation worldwide can begin soon after.

Alessandro Pirolini

Written by

Alessandro Pirolini

Alessandro has a BEng (hons) in Material Science and Technology, specialising in Magnetic Materials, from the University of Birmingham. After graduating, he completed a brief spell working for an aerosol manufacturer and then pursued his love for skiing by becoming a Ski Rep in the Italian Dolomites for 5 months. Upon his return to the UK, Alessandro decided to use his knowledge of Material Science to secure a position within the Editorial Team at AZoNetwork. When not at work, Alessandro is often at Chill Factore, out on his road bike or watching Juventus win consecutive Italian league titles.

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