Technique for textile water purification receives application grant

Textiles, sunlight and titanium dioxide. These are the decisive components in a piece of water purification technology developed by textile researchers at the University of Borås. Now, the applicability of the technology is to be evaluated for use in for example refugee camps.Nils-Krister_Persson

The developer is Nils-Krister Persson, who is connected to, among other research organisations, the Swedish School of Textiles and the Smart Textiles Initiative. The technology will now become one of the contributions of the University of Borås to the government research innovation which is carried out by the so-called Innovationskontor (Innovation Offices) established at universities all over Sweden. The project has been submitted for verification to Innovationskontor Väst (Innovation Office West), where an evaluation of applicability of the results will be performed.

— Among other things, they will consider the possibility of using the technology to purify water for refugee camps, where there is a dire need to eliminate microorganisms such as E. coli bacteria, Nils-Krister Persson says.

He has spent many years researching methods of using textiles for water purification and emphasizes that it is not a question of using the textiles as filters. Instead, the textile is used as a reagent to start a chemical reaction, so-called photocatalysis. When sunlight hits the textiles, which have been coated with titanium dioxide, and the dirty water, a chemical process is initiated which destroys the microorganisms.

Although the use of titanium dioxide to purify water is not a novel idea, using it in combination with textile materials is.

— There are many advantages. For one, it is easy to take the textiles out of the water together with all remnants of the microorganisms and it’s an inexpensive piece of low-technology, which means almost any textile material can be used to make it.

Another piece of water purification technology researched at the University of Borås has now received support by Innovationskontor Väst. It is a research collaboration between the Swedish School of Textiles and the School of Engineering, Nils-Krister Persson and Patrik Lennartsson, which investigates the possibility of purifying water by removing various metals by using textiles on which biomass is grown. Conceivable application areas is the mining industry.

Turning to Innovationskontor Väst with their research has been an excellent way of advancing it to the next level in Nils-Krister Persson’s opinion.

— I view it as a way to receive input on whether or not to proceed with our research and if it’s time to attempt to utilise the results. It’s also a way to gain an overview over a possible future market.

Facts on Innovationskontor Väst:

Innovationskontor Väst is tasked with providing support to individual researchers and research organisations concerning innovations and utilisation of research results. The support given includes counselling regarding the many different forms of utilisation, for example commercialisation, patents, licensing and research collaborations.

Innovationkontor Väst has been established by Chalmers at the request of the government and it has seven higher education institution as partners: University of Gothenburg, University West, University of Skövde, Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences, University of Borås, Jönköping University, and Halmstad University.