Spark award for a water filter with huge potential


The Spark Award for the most promising invention at ETH Zurich of 2018 went to Raffaele Mezzenga, Sreenath Bolisetty und Qingrui Zhang. They developed a filter based on nanoparticles, which removes fluoride efficiently from water.

Fluoride can trigger a disease called fluorosis. According to WHO 260 million people worldwide are threatened by fluoride contamination. Raffaele Mezzenga, Sreenath Bolisetty und Qingrui Zhang have developed an affordable and efficient solution for this challenge. They have now won the Spark Award of ETH Zurich for their work.

For its filter the team uses protein nanofibrils from very inexpensive protein sources such as milk protein. The fibrils are used to produce nanoparticles. In a second step, membranes are generated with the fibril-nanoparticle hybrids. These membranes show unprecedent efficiency in removing fluoride from water. 

The membranes have already been tested on samples from the groundwater of the city of Rome. These preliminary tests showed that the technology outperforms existing methods. The next step is to conduct pilot projects in order to test the technology on larger quantities of water.

Videos about the winning project and the other finalists can be found on the ETH website.