Membrane Purifies Water


Northwestern University researchers have received a U.S. patent for a new membrane that can render perchlorate -- a thyroid-damaging ingredient of rocket fuel and a drinking water problem -- harmless.

The hollow-fiber membrane works through a natural biochemical process to turn perchlorate into non-hazardous chloride. The cost-effective and environmentally friendly system also works on nitrates, which are contaminants from agricultural fertilizers that can cause blue-baby syndrome in infants, researchers said.

They plan to try the filter on other oxidized pollutants such as bromate, selenate, heavy metals, radionuclides and chlorinated solvents, including trichloroethylene, a problem in the semiconductor industry.

There is no effective clean-up solution for perchlorate at present, researchers said. It was discovered in the water supplies of a large number of states in the late 1990s.

United Press Int'l, 6/17/02

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