The problem of access to safe drinking water in most parts of Bangladesh is a persistent challenge. Now, a team of scientists shows that a locally growing green macroalgae species could help Bengali people filter virtually all harmful microbes out of their water.
The researchers managed to engineer an experimental algae-derived paper filter that has proven to be 99.999-percent efficient at removing pathogens. like viruses and bacteria commonly found in the waters of Bangladesh’s Turan River and Dhanmondi Lake.
Made chiefly of nanocellulose fibers obtained from locally-grown Pithophora green macroalgae, the low-cost material incorporates tiny pores, the size of which has been tailored to allow water to pass through while trapping viruses and bacteria. And, unlike the trees from which traditional filtration paper is made, the Pithophora algae can be inexpensively grown, harvested and processed right within population centers, requiring relatively little in the way of heavy machinery or other infrastructure.