Eighteen-year-old Perry Alagappan of Texas has created a renewable heavy metal filter capable of removing 99 percent of heavy metals from water that passes through it, The Guardian reports.
This could be particularly useful in countries such as China and India, where recycling factories are recovering e-waste exported from around the world, but discharging heavy metals and chemicals into local water supplies in the process.
Built from graphene nanotubes, the filter can be rinsed with a vinegar concentrate and reused, according to The Guardian. The highly concentrated waste can then be evaporated, leaving a deposit of pure metal that can be used in many different ways.
The filter would cost only $20 to make, up to five times less than existing reverse osmosis technology.
Although it’s common for water technologies to be subject to patent applications and granted patents, Alagappan says he won’t be patenting his novel water cleaning technology, but sharing it with the world. For his innovation, the teenager was awarded the Stockholm Junior Water Prize at this year’s World Water Week.
In homes, the technology could be fitted to taps, Alagappan says. In industry, it could replace existing, non-renewable filtration systems such as reverse osmosis.
In April, Coca-Cola pledged an additional $35 million to support sustainable safe water access and sanitation programs for 4 million more people across Africa by 2020. This new funding builds on an original Replenish Africa Initiative (RAIN) commitment of $30 million to bring safe water access to 2 million people across the African continent by the end of 2015 made at the 5th World Water Forum in Istanbul in 2009.
Last year, not long after Dow designated its FILMTEC™ ECO Reverse Osmosis (RO) Elements as its second Breakthrough to a World Challenge, the technology garnered a prestigious Edison Award, which recognize and honor the most innovative business leaders in the world.