News National CSIRO making Sydney harbour water drinkable

CSIRO making Sydney harbour water drinkable

It looks good, but water from Sydney harbour is often polluted. Photo: AAP
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Sydney’s often-polluted harbour has played a starring role in the development of a new CSIRO water-filter coating that could save lives around the world.

The new graphene filter coating is so effective, says CSIRO scientists, water samples from the harbour were safe to drink after passing through it.

CSIRO scientist Dong Han Seo says the tiny membrane, named Graphair, supercharges water purification, making it simpler, more effective and quicker.

“In Graphair we’ve found a perfect filter for water purification,” Dr Seo said in a statement on Thursday.

The graphene membrane, which is made of a single layer of carbon, could eventually replace current multi-stage processes with a single step.

This technology can create clean drinking water, regardless of how dirty it is, in a single step.”

The research scientist and his CSIRO colleagues used water from Sydney Harbour as the test for Graphair’s water purification abilities.

The latest annual State of the Beaches report showed one in six areas sampled in the greater Sydney area had enough enterococci bacteria to be graded fair to very poor.

Six estuarine beaches in Sydney, including Rose Bay and Riverview’s Tambourine Bay, recorded poor ratings, due to issues with contaminants flushed out after heavy rainfall or sewerage problems, the report released in October said.

The CSIRO is hoping to commence field trials in a developing-world community next year after researchers from QUT, the University of Sydney, University of Technology Sydney, and Victoria University confirmed Graphair’s water purification qualities.

Dr Seo hopes the technology can be developed for use as a home or even a town’s water supply filtering system.

It’s also investigating other applications such as the treatment of seawater and industrial effluents.

Almost a third of the world’s population, some 2.1 billion people, don’t have clean and safe drinking water, Dr Seo said.

“As a result, millions – mostly children – die from diseases associated with inadequate water supply, sanitation and hygiene every year,” he said.

The breakthrough research was published on Thursday in Nature Communications.