Mutta, Nusrat Begum

Improving Water Quality:
Developing a Natural Toxic-free Nanomebrane


As the human population escalates within the next century, conservation will not be sufficient, as water quality will be compromised due to increased demand from municipal and industrial users competing for limited freshwater resources. As a result, there will be a reduction in adequate water resources. Currently, 1.1 billion people in rural, peri-urban and urban areas are deprived of sustainable access to safe drinking water and any water source is therefore used despite its quality. Water contamination has led to a lack of safe drinking water globally, affecting more than one billion people in developing countries.

Water can be treated by municipalities before it is distributed to piping systems and treatment can be carried out from households. There are several methods of improving water quality at point-of-use (POU), such as boiling, the use of disinfectants and filtration.

Filtration removes contaminants in the water that is drunk but the pores of filters are large enough to allow bacteria, viruses, salt, and industrial and agricultural contaminants through. However, pore sizes can be reduced to nanoscale and membranes can easily filter out smaller contaminants. There are four main types of membrane filtration systems, one being the nanomembrane, which is achieved through nanotechnology, a technology that is adding magic to conventional science, redefining the basic chemistry that is learnt in high school and that is taught at tertiary level. It is said to be the answer to numerous endless problems facing developing countries in respect of energy, health, water and food security, to name but a few. It is the answer to achieving the Millennium Development Goals and creating a sustainable bright future.

A nanomembrane resulting from this research will enable purification to take place prior to the use of the water. Treating water at POU is an ideal method that can save millions of lives, enabling particularly the poor urban community to have access to safe drinking water on its doorstep, since the majority of contamination occurs during handling, transport and storage, as opposed to obtaining water directly from source.

Supervisor: Prof Bert Klumperman, Department of Chemistry & Polymer Science, Faculty of Science, Stellenbosch University.

Disciplinary history: BSc Chemistry / Zoology, University of Nairobi; MSc Environmental Chemistry, University of Nairobi.

Faculty/department of registration: Faculty of Science, Department of Chemistry and Polymer Science, SU (2013).


  • Comment Added:
    | By:
    Fanuel J Ligate
    The project is appealing as it address the most popular challenge-water quality facing many developing countries.