Climate change is making people aware of the importance of water. Scientists are currently working on many research projects aimed at developing a method for efficient and effective water treatment. One such project is being carried out by researchers from the Spanish University of Huelva, who decided to use a method in which 3D printed parts are an essential component.

The method the scientists are working on allows water to be purified from 18 water disinfection by-products, which are created, among others after chemical water purification with chlorine. Their purpose is to treat drinking water and purify it from harmful chemicals so that it is safe for the health of users.

The current methods of water purification from disinfection by-products, according to the project authors, have drawbacks such as low repeatability of process parameters or low extraction efficiency. Their method is based on the existing HF-LPME (hollow-fiber liquid phase microextraction) technique, but uses modern manufacturing technologies.

The creators admit that 3D printing technology has allowed them to improve the quality of manufactured parts and reduce manufacturing costs compared to previous iterations of their device. The structural elements were designed and 3D printed from polypropylene on a Prusa i3 3D printer. Importantly, hollow-fiber material allows the creation of permeable membranes with miniature sizes, allowing efficient purification of drinking water.

The process of extraction of harmful chemicals takes about 30 minutes and requires heating the device to about 45°C. The process itself is very complicated – it requires the use of a number of chemical reagents and maintaining stable conditions of the process. However, the results of the process proved to be satisfactory – the amount of side substances was within the limits recommended by the World Health Organization (WHO) for safe drinking water. What’s more, the repeatability of the process turned out to be so high that the possibility of wider adaptation of the method to drinking water treatment is being considered.

Magdalena Przychodniak
Editor-in-Chief of the 3D Printing Center. A biomedical engineer following the latest reports on bioprinting and 3D printing in modern medicine.

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