Viral pathogen removal from water using swellable organically modified silica

Emily J. Barth, The College of Wooster


Water quality is a critical issue in developing countries due to the presence of waterborne-pathogens and the lack of drinking water purification systems. While basic filtration systems can remove large pathogens such as bacteria, viruses are more difficult to remove because of their small size. No virus removal method currently exists that is ideal for wide-scale implementation in the developing world. Methods that are effective are often too costly, require power, or the materials cannot be reused. Swellable organically modified silica (SOMS) has the potential to be adapted to effectively capture viruses and meet the other previously identified criteria. SOMS was shown, using a double layer agar plaque assay, to lack any inherent ability to capture the model virus, MS2. However, SOMS absorbed hydrophobic nanoparticles, approximately the size of MS2. This suggests that the hydrophobic surface chemistry, as opposed to the pore size of SOMS is the limiting factor in the absorption of MS2. When greater than 10% of the surface of SOMS was coated with polyethylenimine, a positively-charged polymer, SOMS absorbed negatively-charged molecules, which suggests it may be able to absorb polar viruses. Based on preliminary results, SOMS has the potential to be implemented in developing countries as an effective, inexpensive, power-free, safe and reusable method of water treatment.


© Copyright 2010 Emily J. Barth