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Published May 7, 2012 08:19 AM

Scientists create constant supply of sterile water using sunlight and air

Researchers at the University of Hull are developing a way to produce constant supplies of sterile water, powered simply by sunlight and air. The device is aimed at remote communities where conventional systems using chemicals or electricity are not a viable option. The research — funded by the Sir Halley Stewart Trust — will make use of molecules which, in response to sunlight, produce a form of oxygen that is highly toxic. Lead researcher from Hull’s Department of Chemistry, Dr Ross Boyle, originally developed these molecules to attack cancer cells, but has spotted a new application for their use in the developing world.

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"We know from earlier work that the same technique which works on cancer cells will destroy many species of bacteria including MRSA and E. Coli," says Dr Boyle. "It can also knock out at least one common parasite. And a major advantage is that it doesn’t create resistance in micro-organisms."

The molecules — known as porphyrins — will be attached to small glass beads, which are packed inside a transparent tube. As water flows through the tube in natural light, the porphyrins on the beads react to create the toxic form of oxygen, killing the bacteria and parasites in the water to render it sterile. Dr Boyle already knows how to fix his molecules to a glass surface, so is confident that production of the beads will be straightforward.

Article continues at Sunlight

Sterile Water image via Wikipedia

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