Water for Empowerment has been evaluating a variety of technologies to bring safe drinking water to developing countries. The Puralytics technology has the potential to provide clean water in a simple, straight forward, and cost effective manner to many communities that currently do not have clean water infrastructure. It has further potential application in emergency situations.
Puralytics uses a basic titanium catalyst technology concept. Titanium, as a metal, can act as an effective chemical catalyst under the correct conditions. Puralytics has developed a patented and proprietary nano-particle titanium catalytic product that allows titanium to temporarily capture the energy of sunlight and transfer it to a chemical form, the hydroxyl radical that is very reactive with biological organisms, many organic chemicals, and many metals. Note: The hydroxyl radical is much more reactive than the hydroxyl ion, which is present in all water systems.
The hydroxyl radical is very short lived so a large surface area is necessary to generate a sufficiently robust catalysis process to remove contaminants in a reasonable (3-4 hours) time frame. The secret to the Puralytics process is the nano-particle material that creates relatively large quantities of reactive hydroxyl radicals. Imagine a titanium dust so fine you cannot see the particles under even a strong microscope. A 10 nanometer-titanium particle is on the order of 50-100 titanium atoms in diameter.
The hydroxyl radical reacts with anything that can be oxidized or reduced, including breaking most carbon-carbon bonds, the main bonds in all organic compounds. It will break down most organic compounds to carbon dioxide and water. It will vigorously attack cell surfaces and so it is particularly effective against “organized” organic substances like virus, bacteria, prions, etc. It will convert many, but not all, metals into stable or precipitated hydroxides or oxides. It does not alter dissolved stable salts such a sodium chloride or magnesium sulfate, meaning it will not convert saline or brackish water into fresh water.
The applicability of this technology is based on the following:
- It is stable and will not degrade
- It uses near UV (ultraviolet) light which can be provided by sunlight or electrically powered LED systems
- It is not easily “poisoned” due to its large surface area
- It is particularly effective on pathogens
- It is a passive process that can be used without moving parts
- It can be used many times over without replenishment due to the large surface area
- It does not produce a waste stream
- Its use-life is on the order of years without maintenance.
Its disadvantages are:
- It cannot be used to cleanup brackish or saline waters
- Some metals are only partially treated
- A few organic chemicals (but not microbes) are resistant
- The nano-titanium process cannot be manufactured on-site or locally, and
- It is new and so has not been tested in all possible water supply conditions, so some caution is prudent.
Water for Empowerment is eager to take this new technology and use it to empower local communities and local people to develop clean water systems to reduce disease, lower work time and effort (from hauling water), and support local business that depends on clean water.