A group of researchers from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) has developed a new method that removes lead and other heavy metals from drinking water.
The authors claim that it is a much more efficient process from the energy point of view than any other system in use today.
It is also the first method of its kind that can be applied to the treatment of domestic as well as industrial water supplies.
This new approach uses a process known as shock electrodialysis, in which an electric field is used to produce a shock wave within an electrically charged porous material that carries contaminated water.
The shock wave propagates as the voltage increases, leaving a zone where metal ions are depleted and separating the feed stream into a brine and a fresh stream. The process produces a 95 percent reduction in lead from the outgoing fresh stream.
According to the authors, this process is also cheaper, “because the electrical energy used in the separation really goes for the high value target, which is lead. Not much energy is wasted to eliminate sodium, ”they point out.
The researchers acknowledge that this process still has limitations, as it has only been demonstrated on a small scale in a laboratory.
Expanding this method to be practical in the home will require more research, and more time will be needed for industrial use.
However, scientists believe that it may be available for use in homes within a few more years.