Scientist Guoxiu Wang at the University of Technology Sydney and colleagues engineer 2D sheets of graphitic carbon nitride which can be used to filter water. The graphitic carbon nitride reacts to sunlight and creates destructive oxygen-based chemicals that kills any bacteria within the water. This is known as photocatalytic disinfection, which is an actively researched method to replace current filtration systems that aren't so eco-friendly. The sheet was able to kill over 99.9999% of bacteria and purify 10 L of water in just an hour, faster than even the best metal-based catalysts.
This technology is revolutionary not only for its ability to purify water but it is safe as it doesn't use UV light, chlorination, or ozone disinfection. Metal-based reactants have the potential to teach toxic pollutants into the water but are the most effective. Non-metallic purification processes won't pollute the water but they don't purify the water quite as well. This new technology is safe for people and the environment. The way it works is quite simple as well. The scientists put chemical groups like acids into the sheets to attract electrons towards it. From there, the electrons jump onto oxygen atoms to form chemicals such as hydrogen peroxide, which oxidizes the bacteria's wells and destroying their chemical structures.
Due to the amazing results, the inexpensive materials used, and the simple design means that the sheets should be easy to develop on a large scale. The development team wants to hone the technique by expanding the material's ability to absorb sunlight, fix the preparation process, and create antibacterial fibers to prevent bacterial growth within the sheet. After the technology is tweaked to perfection, people are hopeful we can use it'll be ready for commercial use. This is not the only thing needed to purify water, as there is still pH, residue, and heavy-metal ions, but this could help clean water become readily available to many people who are unable to find clean sources of water.