Very Cool Experiment (For Backpackers)

This article just showed up in my PLOS one feed. WATER FILTRATION USING PLANT XYLEM seems like chaff science enough until to calculate how much weight you put into your backpack to accomplish this simple purpose. The abstract pretty much tells most of the story, but the whole article is worthy of a read.

Effective point-of-use devices for providing safe drinking water are urgently needed to reduce the global burden of waterborne disease. Here we show that plant xylem from the sapwood of coniferous trees – a readily available, inexpensive, biodegradable, and disposable material – can remove bacteria from water by simple pressure-driven filtration. Approximately 3 cm3 of sapwood can filter water at the rate of several liters per day, sufficient to meet the clean drinking water needs of one person. The results demonstrate the potential of plant xylem to address the need for pathogen-free drinking water in developing countries and resource-limited settings.

Pine Filtration

Pine Filtration

Yeah, sure, I’ve love to see this technique integrated into catastrophe response and spread across developing world situations, but I’d also love to figure out how to integrate it into my ruck. I could potentially ditch the iodine and reduce filtration weight down significantly.

I think the biggest question I’m left with is how much pressure is enough pressure to achieve flow through the plant membrane? Add to this, would it be possible to accomplish the same thing using gravity feed instead of pressurization?

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