For people in too many developing countries, clean water is often a luxury. Chlorine treatments are too expensive for small villages, boiling requires a hefty investment in fuel, and UV radiation demands regular high-tech maintenance. But now, scientists say that a simple, inexpensive water filter might be only a tree branch away from reality.
As reported in a newspaper on February 26, 2014, on PLOS One, MIT researchers ran contaminated water through a sapwood branch and found that the plant tissue successfully filtered experimental dye and actual bacteria out of the mix. The filter required only a fresh branch of white pine and some cheap plastic tubing—simplicity that could be ideal for remote villages or emergency situations.
If you’ve run out of drinking water during a lakeside camping trip, there’s a simple solution: Break off a branch from the nearest pine tree, peel away the bark, and slowly pour lake water through the stick. The improvised filter should trap any bacteria, produce fresh, uncontaminated water.
Removing all the dangerous bacteria from drinking water would have enormous health benefits for people around the world.