IIT Researchers build a cheap filter to provide clean drinking water to Indians

Water scarcity is still an existing problem in India and the demand for water keeps on increasing across the majority of the cities. Though the situation is expected to get much worse in the futuristic years, the only solution to overcome this crisis is to recycle and reuse wastewater and that’s what several cities across the world are doing.

In fact, many cities have already started taking measures regarding this matter. According to a study, about 2.2 billion people in the world do not have access to drinking water.

There are still many areas in India that don’t have the supply to clean and good drinking water. In addition to that, not many people cannot afford to install expensive water purification devices in their homes.

Needless to say, researchers at the Indian Institute of Technology, Hyderabad are doing their bit to completely put an end to this problem.

Credits: IIT Hyderabad

The research team comprises Dr. Debraj Bhattacharyya, Associate Professor, Department of Civil Engineering, IIT Hyderabad, and research students, Anjana Babu, Keerthi Katam, Marttin Gundupalli, Aishwarya Pandey, Raj Kumar Oruganti, and Vinod Vadithya from the Department of Civil Engineering, IIT Hyderabad.

The team is developing water purification systems with the help of algae that can help to minimise wastewater treatment cost while offering an easy way to produce recyclable water including biodiesel. However, they hope that this product would be helpful for people living in rural areas.

In the starting stages, the IIT researchers want their treatment to be used by urban communities that have in-house water treatment amenities for recycling sewage water.

Dr Bhattacharya added in a statement to BW Education that wastewater generated from Class I cities and Class II towns have exceeded 75 billion litres each day. “Decentralised wastewater treatment is essential in cities of a country like India where the total wastewater generated from Class I cities and Class II towns have exceeded 75 billion litres per day,” he added.

As per the press release issued by IIT Hyderabad, current water treatment facilities are only able to treat 26 billion litres of water every day.

With most wastewater not getting necessary treatment, especially in Class I cities and Class II towns, the untreated water is then released into water bodies and land causing catastrophic and irreparable pollution and contamination.

After getting into groove, their team performed an analysis where they studied green micro-algae and diatoms for the breakdown of organic waste in wastewater. It not only breaks down waste but also makes the water better quality which can be used for reuse and recycling.

Moreover, Bhattacharya added, “An additional benefit of using algal-bacterial systems for wastewater treatment is that the algae that are grown in sewage treatment plants can, in turn, be used to produce biodiesel and other value-added by-products.

If all sewage is treated in microalgae-based systems, the total theoretical algae-derived biodiesel production would cut our dependence on petroleum-derived diesel noticeably. However, harvesting of microalgae presents a greater challenge than operating the systems for wastewater treatment.”