Scientists develop hydrogel tablet capable of making river water drinkable, Science News

Imagine you are on a hike and suddenly run out of clean water. You search for water and find a stream, but you are not sure of the purity of the water. What are you doing?

Boiling water may be one of the options, but it will take a long time for it to cool down and (finally) get fresh for consumption.

Scientists at the University of Texas at Austin have developed hydrogels capable of purifying contaminated water. Hydrogel tablets can kill bacteria in water by forming hydrogen peroxide coupled with activated charcoal. Such a combination is lethal for bacteria because it disrupts their metabolism.

“The hydrogel is a multifunctional hydrophilic polymer that can bring about a revolution and curb water scarcity. Plus, it’s very efficient and can be mass produced, ”Guihua Yu, associate professor at Cockrell School of Engineering, Texas, said in a press release.

The hydrogel tablet can purify a liter of water in an hour. The method offers an additional advantage as the purification does not require energy and does not form any harmful by-products. The methods we commonly use require thermal energy (boiling) or solar energy. The use of solar energy causes an accumulation of microbes. This ends up slowing down and shutting down the system.

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