A new water filter uses a tree branch as a filter to provide clean, safe drinking water in areas without access to this necessity.
There are millions of people worldwide who live without access to clean drinking water because of water pollution. Many of these people live in rural areas and in poverty, and that presents a big challenge when it comes to creating viable water filtration solutions. You need to change water filters, and that costs money. Water filters don't grow on trees.
Or maybe they do, thanks to a recent breakthrough in clean drinking water technology.
The breakthrough comes from a team at MIT and it uses sapwood as the key component for this low-cost water filtration device. Sapwood isn't a particular sort of tree. It refers to the new wood growth between the bark and the center of a tree branch. That center part is called heartwood. Newer branches tend to have more sapwood, which means this component of the water filter will be easy to find in rural areas where clean drinking water is scarce. Rhot Karnik, one of the mechanical engineers on the project, explains:
There’s huge variation between plants. There could be much better plants out there that are suitable for this process. Ideally, a filter would be a thin slice of wood you could use for a few days, then throw it away and replace at almost no cost. It’s orders of magnitude cheaper than the high-end membranes on the market today.
The MIT team tested their filter with white pine, but the device has the potential to work with many types of wood.
There's no word yet on when this device will become available, but when it does it is going to make a huge difference for people living with contaminated drinking water sources.