South African scientists have developed an environmentally friendly method to clean highly toxic water and convert it into drinkable water. Once available commercially, this water purification method could drastically reduce the negative impact that business industries gave on water pollution worldwide.
The water purification method is called Eutectic Freeze Crystallisation. This technique freezes acidic water to produce potable water as well as useful salts – such as sodium and calcium sulphate.
The water purification research started in 2007, when Alison Lewis – a professor in chemical engineering – discovered that by using the process of Eutectic Freeze Crystallisation, 99.9% of polluted water can be reused. The major breakthrough is that unlike other water cleaning methods, it does not produce any toxic waste and therefore, is a sustainable practice.
The simultaneous separation and purification method is based on bringing the contaminated waters temperate down to reach its eutectic point – the lowest possible temperature before it solidifies. At this point, toxins tend to crystallise to form salts and sink to the ground, while the clean water turns into ice, floating to the surface.
This water purification method has received support from the South African Water Research Commission. In addition to this, the industrial firms in South Africa, Germany, Holland, Canada and Australia have already expressed an interest in using this water purification method. A water delivery London company has also expressed interest in using this to make water from the River Thames drinkable.
The industry that will benefit the most in South Africa is the Mining Sector, which currently stores waste water – brine – in across the country in huge evaporated ponds. This purification method could save the South African government large sums of money, as the department of environmental affairs announced that the cost of removing the brine would be in excess of 30 million dollars.
Recycling scare water resources also makes economic sense. A recent report from the Green Economy Initiative (GEI) of the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) – which assists governments in shaping policies, investments and spending towards a range of green sectors, including clean technologies, industry, renewable energies and water services – shows that for every dollar invested in safe water, the country’s “revenue” is worth between three to 34 dollars.
Meeting the wastewater challenge is not a luxury but a sensible and practical way to boost public health, secure the sustainability of natural resources. We need to start preserving our water resources and protect our environment, we need to embrace this new type of water purification method, as it not only saves the environment, but also – as studies suggestion – enable us to create jobs.