An article published the journal Nano Letters in April describes University of Cincinnati research on a solar-powered protein filter for removing antibiotics and carcinogens from surface waters. Researchers Vikram Kapoor and David Wendell report that the filters, made from bacterial proteins, work at a higher rate than activated carbon filtering technologies, absorbing 64% of antibiotics in surface waters versus 40% absorbed by activated carbon filters.
The presence of antibiotics in surface water can harm beneficial bacteria and breed antibiotic resistance into potentially harmful microbes. The filters, which are smaller in diameter than a human hair, are powered by sunlight. They could also be extracted from the water in order to remove and recycle antibiotics. In addition, the protein filters are more selective than traditional activated carbon filters. The next step is testing for the ability to remove hormones and heavy metals. Read the article, “Engineering Bacterial Efflux Pumps for Solar-Powered Bioremediation of Surface Waters,” or check out the university’s news story.