Scientist Liangjie Dong from the University of Hawaii has created an easy-to-use paper water filter called Mesopaper. The filter uses three layers of paper made from bamboo fiber with ceramic granules manufactured from clay sandwiched in between. The granule’s pores are tiny enough to trap heavy metals like arsenic, lead or mercury, while at the same time letting water and precious nutrients pass through. Remarkably, inside the pores are nano-sized needles which collect bacteria and deactivate viruses. They react with water and lock pollutants inside, so when the filter is ready to be thrown away it doesn’t contaminate the ground or pollute groundwater.
The filters are inexpensive, and resemble coffee filters, which can be placed easily over the top of a water bottle or jug before pouring water through it. Once the filter stops allowing water through, it is time to replace. Each Mesopaper can filter up to 22 liters of water. Outdoor enthusiasts, international travelers, and emergency preppers are currently the main consumers, but Dong hopes to continue research to make it one day available on a larger scale to people who need it most in developing countries.