Jan 28, 2020

Canadian Professor Develops Natural Water-Treatment Process

Cape Breton University's Professor Xu Zhang’s has created an electrical device to remove pollutants from water.

polluted water

Cape Breton University chemistry Professor Xu Zhang is looking to commercialize an electrical device which uses a natural chemical to remove pollutants from industrial wastewater, according to CBC.

Cape Breton, Nova Scotia, Canada, has a history of coal mining and steel making, which left behind a lot of industrial wastewater. 

The device could be used to remove heavy metals, toxic chemicals, as well as pesticides or pharmaceuticals. According to Zhang, he has found a natural chemical which acts as a catalyst to rid industrial wastewater of pollutants.

The natural catalyst makes the technology cost-effective. The device itself is also inexpensive, can run on solar power or a single AA battery and can be automated and run remotely by computer.

The catalyst is non-toxic and it takes itself out after the process is complete, which leaves a salty solution similar to seawater behind. The device works by adding the catalyst to contaminated waste and running it past electrodes, which then remove the pollutants, reported CBC.

"Actually, it's more like just burning molecules, but it's very difficult, or it's very expensive, to make a device to burn some organic pollutant molecules in water," said Zhang.

The university is seeking out the assistance of a consultant to best determine how to commercialize the technology. This could mean selling the invention to a business that would then contract it out to customers, or starting a company and licensing the technology to industrial users, reported CBC.

"It's not just limited to just Sydney or Cape Breton, but also Nova Scotia, even Atlantic Canada,” said Zhang. "This is a global issue for people wanting to get clean and safe water to drink, so we believe if we can develop some cost-effective technology, it will help a lot of people."