Safe Water Solutions Featured Technology: Membrane Filtration

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Why we need to keep water safe to drink is pretty obvious.  The real challenge is how.

In this three-part blog series, we will feature three unique innovations that are key to achieve safe drinking water.  Investing in these technologies will surely help realize the UN Sustainable Development Goal to achieve universal and equitable access to safe and affordable drinking water for all, by 2030.

Membrane filtration

According to the Encyclopedia of Separation Science, Membrane filtration is a type of filtration that uses a very thin filter medium where the particles to be separated are usually large compared to the pore size characteristic of the membrane.  Particles larger than the membrane’s pores are rejected on the surface and do not get a chance to get to pass through the filter.

There are generally three types of membrane filtration:  1) Reverse osmosis, with an impermeability of membrane at less than 0.001 μm (micrometers or one nanometer), 2) Ultrafiltration, at 0.001–0.1 μm, and 3) Microfiltration, at 0.1–10 μm.  Membrane filtration depends on the pore size to successfully separate particles it seeks to filter.

In the case of water, these “particles” are also called contaminants and are in the form of dissolved solids, bacteria, viruses, protozoa, and other physical, chemical, biological, or radiological substance or matter.  At certain heightened levels, these contaminants make the water truly unsafe to drink.  This happens naturally sometimes due to environmental or geological factors, and other times due to calamities, both natural or man-made.

Among the smallest impurities are viruses such as SARS, Hepatitis A, and Rotavirus measuring at more than 0.02 μm. 

The case of water unavailability or contamination is much prevalent in many areas around the world that the cost of water becomes much higher than average or the frequency of disease reaches epidemic levels.  Luckily, the World Health Organization is able to certify a number of innovative solutions that address this problem.

LifeStraw® Hollow Fiber Membrane Technology

LifeStraw® has the only membrane technology awarded with 3 stars by the World Health Organization.  This means it is able to remove 99.9999% of bacteria, 99.999% of viruses, 99.99% of protozoan parasites, and turbidity particles from water.  It makes use of what is called hollow fiber membrane technology present in all LifeStraw products.  LifeStraw is not powered by any electricity, but rather uses either the sucking pressure of the mouth (for personal products) or gravity (for all others) to pass water through the filters.

LifeStraw®’s hollow fiber membrane technology traps all contaminants inside the filter such that only clean and safe water comes out for drinking.

How this technology can be used

Any water that is turbid and/or contaminated by bacteria, protozoa, and viruses can be made safe to drink by LifeStraw.  This means water from rivers, lakes, streams, rain, deep wells, and similar sources can now be potable.

Do you know of any communities that can benefit from this innovation? Let us know!  We are excited to work with you in bringing sustainable development solutions.  To help achieve clean and safe drinking water for all, send us an email at [email protected].