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Water solutions

Cheap new filters produce drinking water free of lead, arsenic, and bacteria

Mesopaper Handout

Water solutions
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Clean drinking water is one of the developing world’s most critical needs. But current methods of water purification such as boiling, chemical treatment, or reverse osmosis require energy, technology, and time.

To address this problem, researchers continue to develop inexpensive methods of water purification. One startup called Mesofilter Inc. has developed a simple, cone-shaped paper filter that removes pollutants from water, including lead, arsenic, and bacteria.

Called Mesopaper, the filter contains three layers of bamboo-based paper laced with tiny ceramic granules with pores small enough to capture heavy metals while letting water pass through, according to Fast Company. Each pore contains microscopic iron needles that function as hooks to capture bacteria and deactivate viruses. The iron gradually reacts with the water, closing up the pores and sealing the pollutants inside so discarded filters don’t recontaminate either the soil or water.

“Hundreds of millions of people worldwide drink contaminated water,” Liangjie Dong, the CEO of Mesofilter, told the public health standards organization NSF International. “Our goal is to provide access for anyone, anywhere, to safe drinking water.”

NSF has tested and certified the Mesopaper filter’s ability to reduce lead and arsenic to drinkable standards. Each 9-inch-diameter filter can purify about 6 gallons of water, depending on the level of contamination, according to Fast Company. Mesofilter is selling the filters at $6.99 for a pack of six.

Australia’s Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization recently tested another newly developed water filter. The graphene-based filter purified the heavily contaminated water of Sydney Harbor to a drinkable standard in just one pass, according to a press release. Researchers say the material, called “Graphair,” could be used to filter both seawater and industrial wastewater on a large scale.

Hot investment

Heat has always been an annoying byproduct of personal computers. The harder your computer works, the more heat it generates. Now, French startup Qarnot has designed a computer specifically meant to heat your home while offsetting your electricity bill through cryptocurrency mining.

The QC-1 looks like a wall-mounted heater but contains a computer with two powerful graphics processing units. It’s designed to do nothing but crunch the complex math problems involved in mining the cryptocurrency Ethereum and in the process produce heat.

The $3,600 QC-1 sets up and starts mining in less than 10 minutes, according to Qarnot, and is controlled by a mobile app that collects the mined Ethereum coins in a digital wallet. Users keep 100 percent of the currency they mine, TechCrunch reports. Based on the QC-1’s processing speed, Qarnot says the computer could generate around $120 per month at current Ethereum prices. —M.C.

Labeled for Life

Technology giant Google has classified and indexed more than 4 million Life magazine photographs using only artificial intelligence. The project debuted in March with the launch of the website artsexperiments.withgoogle.com/lifetags.

At the website, users can click on machine-generated labels to browse the Life photos. Clicking on “ballet,” for example, reveals dozens of photos of ballet performers along with a Wikipedia definition of ballet. Selecting an individual photograph provides the picture’s title and photographer, along with the computer’s identification of the individuals in the picture as dancers.

The classification process was not perfect, though. Google’s AI technology failed to generate labels for some obvious and iconic Life topics, such as the Vietnam War, according to the website Ars Technica. —M.C.

Michael Cochrane Michael is a World Journalism Institute graduate and a former WORLD correspondent.


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