A New Approach to Cleaner Water

Author:  Minnie Rai
Institution:  University of Western Ontairo

With potent and volatile bacteria such as E.Coli and Giardia lamblia in the world's drinking water, the scientific community is developing new ways for effective water purification techniques. The presence of coliforms like E.Coli in drinking water can cause fever, vomiting, diarrhea and even death. Researchers at the Sandia National Laboratories have created a new coagulant, a substance used for water purification, that substitutes a gallium atom in the center of an aluminum oxide cluster. The discovery has led to the creation of an effective decontaminant that creates a strong bond with waste matter and has a longer shelf life than those of other water purification products currently on the market. The Sandia Advance coagulant material is effective in removing bacterial, viral, organic and inorganic contaminating substances from river water that have the potential to infiltrate the world's drinking supply.


The Sandia coagulant is effective at binding to organic and inorganic waste matter present in water. The coagulant has a strong attraction and binding power to contaminants found in water due to its strong electrostatic charge. The Sandia coagulant does not follow traditional water treatment techniques that involve the use of nanoscopic tweezers to perform an atom substitution. Instead it undergoes a dissolution process where aluminium salts are dissolved in water and gallium salts are dissolved in a sodium hydroxide solution via a heating process. The dissolution process compared to the nanoscopic tweezing procedure yields more favourable results in the water purification process.

The substance created by the Sandia Laboratory also boasts a longer shelf life compared to other products as it does not convert to aggregates. When a coagulant begins to aggregate it decreases the effectiveness of its ability to bind to waste material.


The future of purer and safer drinking water for everyone is not a far-fetching one as this type of coagulant becomes more widespread among water treatment companies and organizations. Principal investigator for the Sandia coagulant project, May Nyman believes that "technological advances like this may help solve problems faced by water treatment facilities in both developed and developing countries." The study was published in the June 2009 Journal of Environmental Science and Technology.