India has a long hard history of disease and infection; you may have heard (or even been a victim) of
Delhi Belly. Having such a large population – with an unfair amount also below the poverty line – there is a constant problem
of food and clean water supply. Many researchers, charities and philanthropists around the world have been working to find
solutions to these problems such as Australian registered WaterAid.
One such group are Indian Institute of Technology Madras’ Dr Dillip Kumar Chand with his team; Randhir Rai and Sathyanarayana N. Gummadi. Their concept is simple – make use of copper’s oligodynamic effect to prevent aerial contamination and microbial growth in stored drinking water and thus keeping it healthy for consumption for longer. To do this, they coated jute stick pieces in cuprous oxide (Cu2O-JSP) and copper (Cu-JSP) and added them to beakers containing water.
Two experiments were conducted, first the showed copper coated beads were successful at actively disinfecting contaminated water. Four beakers were filled with contaminated water, regular, uncoated jute beads (JSP) were added to one, cuprous oxide coated beads to the second, copper coated beads to the third and the fourth left as control. Checking periodically, the researchers found that the copper and cuprous oxide beakers had less contamination within the first hour and after 4 hours there was no detectable bacteria in the beakers which had cuprous oxide or copper coated beads added. Whereas the beaker with non-coated jute beads and the control still had no reduced levels of bacteria.
The second experiment involved a similar setup of four beakers and the same jute beads, however the water was initially clean
and left in an environment that allowed aerial contamination. After the first day the copper coated and cuprous oxide
coated beakers had no detectable levels of bacterial growth, whereas the control and jute bead-only beakers both
experienced contamination and exponential growth of bacteria.
The researchers concluded the buoyant nature of the jute beads – even when coated in copper or cuprous oxide – allowed them to float on water and resulted in successful prevention of water contamination. “This finding is likely to find application for storage of potable water until actual consumption is a requirement” they said.