Using bacteria to create a water filter that kills bacteria


More than one in 10 people in the world lack basic drinking water access.


More than one in 10 people in the world lack basic drinking water access, and by 2025, half of the world's population will be living in water-stressed areas, which is why access to clean water is one of the National Academy of Engineering's Grand Challenges. Engineers at Washington University in St. Louis have designed a novel membrane technology that purifies water while preventing biofouling, or buildup of bacteria and other harmful microorganisms that reduce the flow of water, and they used bacteria to build such membranes.

Srikanth Singamaneni, professor of mechanical engineering & materials science, and Young-Shin Jun, professor of energy, environmental & chemical engineering, and their teams blended their expertise to develop an ultrafiltration membrane using graphene oxide and bacterial nanocellulose that they found to be highly efficient, long-lasting and environmentally friendly. If their technique were to be scaled up to a large size, it could benefit developing countries where clean water is scarce.

The results of their work were published as the cover story in Environmental Science & Technology Jan. 2, 2019.

Biofouling accounts for nearly half of all membrane fouling and is very challenging to remove completely. Singamaneni and Jun have been tackling this challenge together for nearly 5 years and have previously developed other membranes using gold nanostars, but wanted to design one that used less expensive materials.


Continue reading at Washington University in St. Louis.

Image via Washington University in St. Louis.