A collaborative effort between researchers from Israel’s Ben-Gurion University of the Negev (BGU) and University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign (UIUC) has developed a new method for filtering viruses from treated municipal wastewater used for drinking.
“This is an urgent matter of public safety,” the researchers said. “Insufficient removal of human adenovirus in municipal wastewater, for example, has been detected as a contaminant in U.S. drinking water sources, including the Great Lakes and worldwide.”
Current viral pathogen filtration methods require intensive energy consumption in order to properly remove pathogens without resorting to the use of chemicals such as chlorine, which can contaminate drinking water.
A team led by Prof. Moshe Herzberg of BGU’s Zuckerberg Institute for Water Research created a special hydrogel coating that repels waterborne viruses, such as human norovirus and adenovirus, when grafted to a commercial ultrafiltration membrane.
“Utilizing a simple graft-polymerization of commercialized membranes to make virus removal more comprehensive is a promising development for controlling filtration of pathogens in potable water reuse,” said Prof. Thanh H. Nguyen of UIUC’s Department of Chemical Engineering.
The research project was supported by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the German-Israeli Water Technology Cooperation Program, which is funded by Israel’s Ministry of Science & Technology and Germany’s Federal Ministry of Education and Research.