Making drinking water a lot safer by killing an overwhelming number of bacteria and most viruses is now possible. A novel research to this end was carried out by a team led by Prof. T. Pradeep, Department of Chemistry, Indian Institute of Technology (IIT), Madras.

In May 2013, the same team was able to achieve only 100 times reduction in bacterial load and negligible reduction in viral load through sustained release of 50 parts per billion (ppb) of silver ions in drinking water.

But in the latest study, the team was able to achieve 1,00,000 times reduction in bacterial load and 1,000 times reduction in viral load by synergistically combining silver with carbonate ions. The drastic improvement in antimicrobial performance was achieved despite the team using only 25 ppb of silver ions, half the amount used in the earlier work.

“A novel way has been found to save 1,300 tonnes of silver annually, which would have been unrecoverable otherwise, amounting to a saving of  Rs.4,600 crores,” Prof. Pradeep told this Correspondent.

The amount of carbonate and silver used was well below the permissible level in drinking water. Tap water was used for the experiments. The results of the study were published a couple of days ago in Nature Group’s journal Scientific Reports.

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