Drink From Your Book With This New Water Purifier

While over 3.4 million people die from water-borne diseases each year, the trouble is that the people who live in affected areas may have no idea that contaminated water is a problem. And even if they do, they don’t have much they can do about it (if your local drinking water supply is contaminated, it’s not likely you have access to — or could afford — clean water). So preventing deaths from diseases in local water supplies is two-fold: First, educating the local people about how to keep water clean (simultaneously letting them know their water could be dangerous) and second, finding a simple, reliable way to clean the water.

The chemistry-meets-design challenge, The Drinkable Book, solves both problems. How does it work?


No, it isn’t super-expensive; the paper costs just pennies to produce and each sheet/filter is capable of producing about 30 days of clean water, meaning each book could filter water for up to four years. And the kicker? The paper can be printed with details and information in an area’s native language, detailing how to keep existing water supplies cleaner, how to use the filters, and what diseases filtered water can prevent. So the filters act as communication devices in and of themselves.

The project came about as a collaborative effort between researchers at Carnegie Mellon University and the University of Virginia, the water-focused charity Water is Life (they developed that water-purifying straw), and DDB. The chemist who thought the idea up, Teri Dankovich, who developed the paper during her PhD thesis at McGill University (and continued work at the University of Virginia) said of her development: “I led a team of undergraduates in field tests in South Africa of this antibacterial paper,” she wrote in an email to Slate. “All of the chemicals used [to treat the paper] have been selected because they are safe, renewable, and nontoxic.”

Getting the books printed in a cost-effective manner and distributed to the 33 countries where Water is Life does business is the next step.

Related on MNN

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Alex A
Alex Aabout a year ago

I really love your write-ups guys continue the good work.


Naomi Dreyer
Naomi Dreyer1 years ago

WOW! Fabulous, wonderful!

Jeanne Rogers
Jeanne R1 years ago

Thank you for sharing.

Angela Malafouris

Well done to the Carnegie Mellon University and the University of Virginia for this water purifier project! I can't imagine how many people will benefit from this, not only in Africa but hopefully around the world!

Warren Webber
Warren Webber3 years ago

Along with a load of others things the United Nations does, they could also buy up a bunch of these books for impoverished health.

Janice Thompson
Janice Thompson3 years ago

Good idea but will it help the illiterate...

Danica Mitchel
Danica Mitchel3 years ago

Wow! Another amazing invention! Hopefully it can help a lot of people especially to those who do not have a clean water in their community!

Danuta Watola
Danuta W3 years ago

Thanks for sharing

Rosa Caldwell
Rosa Caldwell3 years ago

Thanks for the information.

Fi T.
Past Member 3 years ago

Way of saving life