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Last Updated: Wednesday, 13 December 2006, 15:58 GMT
Water cleaning system wins award
Nyex particles
The material absorbs harmful materials in the water
A University of Manchester researcher has won an innovation award for a system which could make contaminated water safe to drink.

Dr Nigel Brown's Aquacart system works by using a material to absorb organic pollutants in water, which are then destroyed with an electric current.

The process appears to completely destroy the harmful compounds, leaving no residue - and clean water.

It is thought the system could deliver a cheap way of cleaning dirty water.

The Royal Society of Chemistry award is in recognition of the practical application that Dr Brown's cleaning process could have.

Dr Nigel Brown
I hope this will make a small, yet significant, contribution to a healthier world
Dr Nigel Brown

Dr Brown said: "The supply of safe water to the world's people, animals and plants will be an over-riding concern of the 21st Century.

"This means reducing pollution and ensuring, in an affordable manner, a sufficient supply of uncontaminated water.

"I hope this will make a small, yet significant, contribution to a healthier world."

Dr Brown's system, housed in a unit developed by his team, uses a form of adsorption - a process by which a solid material is used to remove a substance from water.

Larger trial

Harmful compounds can be removed from sewage and waste water by activated carbon adsorption, a technique used in kitchen water filters.

But on an industrial scale this is "complex and costly", said Dr Brown.

Aquacart uses a material called Nyex which has high electrical conductivity, allowing fast, effective and cheap electrochemical regeneration - meaning it can be used again.

The unit developed by Dr Brown allows simultaneous and continuous adsorption and regeneration to take place.

His research team now wants to obtain more funding to build a system capable of processing larger volumes of water, for a trial possibly in conjunction with water companies.

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