A gorgeous new book that you can drink? Wired magazine reports on a breakthrough method of killing bacteria in drinking water developed at Carnegie Mellon and University of Virginia. Perhaps not as practical as the boiling/distilling method (assuming there is a heat source), but it’s a no-fuss way of simplifying the purification process through silver nanoparticles. The book not only filters four years’ worth of clean water, but also looks great on your coffee table.
The Drinkable Book isn’t a water filter, exactly. While most water filters trap harmful content, the Drinkable Book works a little differently. As dirty water passes through the paper, bacteria absorbs the silver ions which causes it to die. Think of it like poison for the poison found in your water. Liquid drips through the thick paper like coffee seeps through the filter in a pour-over cup and into a box.
To make the paper, Dankovich soaks it in a bath of silver ions and a chemical reduction agent. From there she drains the bath and heats the paper at around 200 degrees Fahrenheit for a few minutes. After the paper is full of silver nanoparticles it gets rinsed and dried again. The result is a rust orange color you see in the book.
Making the book is clearly a science-heavy process, but last summer Brian Gartside, a designer at DDB, contacted Dankovich after finding her research online. He wanted to harness the scientist’s work and turn it into something that could be easily used in developing countries. “At the time, the whole thing was much clunkier,” Dankovich explains. “Not something you’d see in a fancy video.”
Gartside took the paper Dankovich was making and designed a system around it. In an effort to educate the people using the book, each page comes printed with guidelines and tips for safe water consumption. It’s gorgeous.
So how practical is something like this? Quite, says Dankovich. First, the paper and chemicals needed to produce this is cheaper than most other water-filtration mechanisms. “It should be something that’s widely used,” she says. “It doesn’t require power and it’s very intuitive.” The team is planning to field test some form of the book later this year and are looking to have a commercially viable product ready for 2015.