Need another reason to drink whiskey? I don’t, really, but if I did now I have a good one – the by-product of the distillation process could provide clean drinking water to the millions around the world who go without it.
Dr. Leigh Cassidy from Aberdeen University and Professor Graeme Paton developed the system called DRAM which stands for Device for the Remediation and Attenuation of Multiple pollutants. They discovered that the compressed barley husks – usually a throw-away item used during the malting and mashing process that converts sugars into alcohol – have the ability to remove toxic pollutants such as pesticides and benzene from dirty water.
The system works by using the residue of husks after the fermentation process completes – called “draff” – to bind with and remove about 95 percent of the toxins in the water. Distillers have a never-ending supply of these husks and thus the scientists are working with the Speyside distilleries in Scotland.
The Indian local charity Purifaid started using the technology in December in order to remove arsenic found in domestic water supplies in the region around Golaidanga, hoping to provide clean water to the 30 some-odd families living in the villages. More than 18 million people in Bangladesh drink water contaminated with arsenic. “The DRAM system has the potential to transform people’s lives by bringing clean water to entire villages at a low cost. A successful pilot project could change the face of the country,” said Shahreen Raza from Purifaid.
DRAM technology was initially developed for working with solvent impacted waters but trials have revealed the product to be much more flexible than originally thought. It is fully sustainable because it makes use of a renewable product that is planted and harvested on a near-constant basis.
You can check out a video of how the system works on their website.
Personally I would rather drink water treated and cleaned in a natural manner like this, but I don’t think it will be replacing our modern treatment facilities anytime soon. But it could make all the difference in helping those around the globe without access to clean water, so I hope it sees widespread use.
Image from barockschloss