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New water disinfectant is millions of times more effective than alternatives

In a new study from Cardiff University, researchers are describing an extremely effective water disinfectant that can be created on the spot using just hydrogen and air. The experts report that the disinfectant is “millions of times” more effective at killing viruses and bacteria than traditional commercial methods.

According to the researchers, their work could revolutionize water disinfection technologies and present an unprecedented opportunity to provide clean water to communities that need it most.

The breakthrough method works by using a catalyst made from gold and palladium that takes in hydrogen and oxygen to form hydrogen peroxide.

Even thought more than four million tons of hydrogen peroxide are produced every year, stabilizing chemicals are added that reduce its effectiveness as a disinfectant. The addition of chlorine is another option for disinfecting water, but it can react with naturally occurring compounds in water to form toxic compounds.

The experts explained that the ability to produce hydrogen peroxide at the point of use would overcome the issues associated with commercial methods.

The new method was found to be 10,000,000 times more potent at killing the bacteria than an equivalent amount of the industrial hydrogen peroxide, and over 100,000,000 times more effective than chlorination.

“The significantly enhanced bactericidal and virucidal activities achieved when reacting hydrogen and oxygen using our catalyst, rather than using commercial hydrogen peroxide or chlorination shows the potential for revolutionising water disinfection technologies around the world,” said study co-author Professor Graham Hutchings.

“We now have proven one-step process where, besides the catalyst, inputs of contaminated water and electricity are the only requirements to attain disinfection.”

“Crucially, this process presents the opportunity to rapidly disinfect water over timescales in which conventional methods are ineffective, whilst also preventing the formation of hazardous compounds and biofilms, which can help bacteria and viruses to thrive.”

The study is published in the journal Nature Catalysis.

By Chrissy Sexton, Staff Writer

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