Science of DIY Water Filter Animation
Ok, so I am kind of a geek. Who am I kidding, I am really a geek! I love learning about science and technology from my science and engineering clients. But this water filtration project has a special place in my heart. Krithika Ramchander and Dr. Rohit Karnik (MIT engineering) have been studying how to make a DIY, free, effective water filter. To help them explain the science, SayoStudio created an animation to show the details of how bacteria are filtered through the wood’s xylem.
So how DO you make a free water filter? Essentially, take a pine tree branch, bind some tubing to it with a jug of dirty water, and let gravity do the rest for clean, drinkable water. Learn how to make your own filter here, and continue on to see our animation about how the science works.
Animation Showing DIY Water Filter Through Xylem
Normally, xylem—straw-like tubes in plant stems—carries water and nutrients UP the tree. Scientists wondered, what will happen if water flows down through a cut piece of wood? They found that the xylem traps diarrhea-causing bacteria, like E. coli and rotavirus, effectively filtering the water.
The animation we created shows how the xylem in a cut section of wood filters out bacteria. As water soaks into the wood, it flows downward and diagonally through pores in the side walls of the xylem. These pores, called bordered pits, are actually complex structures at the nanoscale. They have a membrane made up of porous fibers that allow water molecules to flow through, but capture the relatively large bacteria cells. The homemade filters remove 99% of bacteria, meeting the World Health Organization’s standards for clean, drinkable water.
DIY Water Filter… more information
Basic research, or science for the sake of science, is absolutely essential. But this real-world application has the potential to save lives across the globe, especially in developing nations. Ramchander and Karnik first tested their filter in their lab, then improved upon it in real-world conditions in India. They made a few simple modifications, by boiling the wood and soaking quickly in alcohol, to improve the filter’s longevity so that it rivals commercial products.
Learn even more science, and how to make your own filter here (water filter science project anyone?).
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