Posted in | Water

Researchers Develop Safe Plasma Water Treatment Method Using Electrical Discharge

The environment is eventually becoming more and more contaminated, especially water—one of the rich natural resources. Human survival is a lot dependent on clean water. With the increase in pollution, water treatment methods have gained considerable attention.

With respect to scientifically proven methods, the plasma water treatment through electrical discharge patented from 2013 has outperformed the water chlorination method used in the last century.

A global research team, guided by Professor Sergei Preis, Department of Material and Environmental Technology, TalTech, published a research-based article titled “Surfactant and non-surfactant radical scavengers in aqueous reactions induced by pulsed corona discharge treatment” on this topic in Journal of Electrostatics.

Use of chlorine for water treatment was completely revolutionary 100 years ago, eliminating pathogenic bacteria and viruses found in drinking water and thereby saving numerous human lives. Indeed, chlorine has so far been an inexpensive and efficient water disinfectant, killing bacteria hazardous to humans. However, the drawback is its side effect caused by the inevitable exposure of chlorine to dissolved organic substances, mostly humic substances (dead plant matter) and various extracellular metabolites. Unfortunately, upon such exposure chlorine will produce carcinogenic, i.e. cancer-causing substances.

Sergei Preis, Professor, Department of Material and Environmental Technology, TalTech.

A few European countries (for example, Finland, the Netherlands, and Denmark) have taken extra radical pipeline maintenance initiatives (namely, regular pipeline inspection and renewal) to lower cancer risk. Here, it is not necessary to add chlorine to household water. However, unfortunately, such water is not 100% safe to drink.

Although ozonation is a more successful water treatment method, it is quite costly. It is deemed a boon to big and prosperous countries, such as the United States, France, and Switzerland. Only a very small amount of ozone-treated drinking water can be generated globally.

As a result of the last five years of research, our research team has developed a reliable novel, plasma water treatment by electrical discharge method. In this method, water is showered between electrodes with discharge pulses of voltage pulse amplitude of 18-20 kV. By this method we can produce drinking water as suitable for consumption as the one produced by ozonation. No carcinogens are produced and the process is three times less expensive.

Sergei Preis, Professor, Department of Material and Environmental Technology, TalTech.

At present, Sergei Preis has collaborated with a Finnish company for commercial manufacturing of the equipment.


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