This makes it easier to reduce the spread of infection and access to clean drinking water worldwide. The so-called thousand leaf filter is produced by researchers in nanotechnology at Uppsala University. It consists of cellulose nanofiber and has a unique layered internal structure similar to the French puff pastry mille-feuille (en. Thousand sheets).
- With a commodity directly from nature and with simple production methods, we believe that our filter paper can be an affordable solution in water purification and help save lives. Our goal is to develop a filter paper which removes even the toughest viruses from water as easily as it brews coffee, says Albert Mihranyan, professor of nanotechnology at Uppsala University, who led the study.
Access to clean drinking water is among the UN's sustainable development goals. Today lacks more than 748 million people access to clean water. Waterborne infections, including different viruses cause death, especially vulnerable are children under five. The virus can be both extremely resistant to disinfection and difficult to remove by filtration because they are so small.
Today it is common to clean water with chemical disinfectants such as chlorine. Instead using filtration is a robust and energy efficient method to obtain drinking water, since it physically removes harmful microorganisms from the water instead of disabling them.
- Clean drinking water is a problem not only in low-income countries. Major virus outbreaks have also occurred before in Europe, including Sweden, continues Albert Mihranyan. He was thinking in particular of the virus outbreak in 2008 in Lilla Edet, when more than 2400 people, or nearly 20% of the population was infected with Norovirus (Norwalk virus).
Cellulose is one of the most common filter material used in everyday life for everything from tea bags to vacuum cleaners. But an ordinary filter paper is excessively large pores to remove viruses or bacteria. 2014 got Albert Mihranyans research team for the first time presented a paper filter that can filter out large viruses, such as influenza.
Small viruses have been much harder to get rid of because they are extremely resistant to physical and chemical inactivation. A good filter will not only remove viruses, but also have high throughput, low pollution and long life. It makes advanced filters are very expensive to develop. Now, with the help of a thousand leaves the filter can be a breakthrough that could enable the long-awaited transition to less expensive filtering solutions. Another application of the filter includes the production of therapeutic proteins and vaccines.
The research was conducted in collaboration with the German virologists, and it is an excellent teamwork is behind success, according to Albert Mihranyan.