For people in developing nations or rural locations, getting clean water may soon be as simple as opening a book … and ripping a page out. That’s the idea behind The Drinkable Book, developed by Carnegie Mellon University postdoc Theresa Dankovich. Each of its pages is made from a thick sheet of paper impregnated with silver and copper nanoparticles, that kill 99.9 percent of microbes in tainted water that’s filtered through it.

Dankovich began work on the technology when she was earning her doctorate at McGill University, continuing it at the University of Virginia’s Center for Global Health. She has now formed a non-profit company, pAge Drinking Paper, to get the book into production and distribution.

Every page of the book is made up of two filters, each one of which in turn being capable of cleaning up to 26 US gallons (100 liters) of water – one book should reportedly be able to handle one person’s water needs for four years.

After the filter is removed from the book, it’s placed in an included box-like holder which is then mounted on top of a 5-gallon bucket. The dirty water is then poured through.

Dankovich tests the paper in Bangladesh(Credit: Ali Wilson)

In field tests conducted in South Africa, Ghana, Haiti and Kenya, the paper achieved 99.9 percent purity when filtering water containing high amounts of bacteria from recently-dumped raw sewage. While some of the silver and copper particles do leach into the clean water, Dankovich says that the levels are well below Environmental Protection Agency and World Health Organization limits.

Theresa is now planning on further field studies, and refining the design of the book. She will presenting her work this week at the 250th National Meeting & Exposition of the American Chemical Society, in Boston. More information is available in the following video.

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