Here’s a very clever idea: A book that not only contains information about clean drinking water printed on its pages, but the actual pages themselves can be torn off and used as high-tech filters that will remove 99% of bacteria from the filtered water. The idea came out of Dr. Theresa Dankovich’s chemistry PhD work at McGill University in Montreal, during which she invented a new bactericidal silver nanoparticle paper and a green method of producing it using cheap and benign processes. She and her team are now trying to make the Drinkable Book a reality to contribute to the effort to bring clean water to the 663 million people who don’t have access to it, according to the World Health Organization/ UNICEF Joint Monitoring Project.
Here’s the description of the project from the official website:
The Drinkable Book™ is both a water filter and an instruction manual for how and why to clean drinking water. This filter is patent pending technology (US Serial No 62/153,395), and works to produce clean drinking water by pouring dirty water through a thick, sturdy sheet of paper embedded with silver nanoparticles (a.k.a. pAge drinking paper), which are lethal for microbes. This paper was created and shown to be highly antibacterial during Theresa’s Ph.D. at McGill University. Additionally, these filters meet US EPA guidelines for bacteria removal to produce safe drinking water. The filters can last a couple of weeks, even up to a month, so the entire books could provide the tools to filter clean water for about a year. While at University of Virginia for her postdoc, Theresa and a team of students tested these filter papers with water sources in South Africa at the WATERisLIFE.com for the next step in developing The Drinkable Book™ for use in the real world. With WATERisLIFE, the filter papers have been successfully field trialed in Ghana, Haiti, and Kenya. Hopefully soon, pAge water filters will supply cheap clean drinking water for many, many people in the developing world.
Here’s a video demonstrating how the book is produced, how it works, and with some real-life use cases:
I hate to rain a little bit on this parade, but… While it’s a very clever idea, and it looks like a lot of work and effort has been put into designing and testing the Drinkable Book, sometimes the simplest ideas are best. Getting clean water instruction and water filters to people in need separately might still be the best and most cost-effective way to do things. Pamphlets with instructions printed in the local language would be very cheap to produce, and mass-produced water filters – which can use the same technology as the book, if that’s the best – would probably be cheaper if they are not bound into beautiful books.
I know, it’s not nearly as cool or as nice-looking. But when the goal is to help people with basic needs like clean water, what matters most is effectiveness.
But if even considering that you want to help the book become a reality, you can contribute to the Indiegogo campaign here.