Dr. Teri Dankovich, a scientist at Carnegie Mellon University, is doing her best to make books important around the world at the same time that she’s trying to solve one of the biggest problems in human history: clean drinking water. After successful field tests in Bangladesh and two African nations, the future looks bright for her product, The Drinkable Book, which means everyone benefits.

From the outside, Dankovich’s product looks like a simple book. But inside the cover, the pages can work magic. Currently, Dankovich and her team create each page by hand and apply an appropriate amount of copper or silver nanoparticles to the paper. When the user needs clean water, they simply tear a page out of the book, place it in a holder, and pour water through the page, which acts as a filter. The nanoparticles are absorbed by the bacteria in the water, which kills them. What’s left is clean drinking water, which has no strong smell or unpleasant taste. Seriously, the pages of this book can eliminate Cholera, E. coli, and Typhoid.

The book that filters water looks like a regular book

Each page in the book can filter over twenty-six gallons of water before it needs to be replaced. An entire book can supply enough filters to purify four years’ worth of drinking water for a single person. Now, if you’re a bit skeptical about all of this, I hear you. There are still limitations, the major drawback being that tests have not shown whether or not these book filters eliminate viruses and protozoa, two other nasty inhabitants of dirty drinking water. But on the bacteria front, the trials in Bangladesh were a resounding success. Pure sewage flowed into the stream where the water was drawn. Even with such foul H2O, the book filter was able to remove 99% of the bacteria, making it as clean, or cleaner, than most drinking water in the United States, Britain, or Australia. The next phase of development involves commercial manufacturing of the books on a larger scale and both China and India have expressed an interest in funding this production. Such funding will help to make the already cost-effective product even less expensive. Currently, a single page in The Drinkable Book costs only $0.03 to make. That is not a typo. Three cents. Who said that print was dead and books were worthless?

A page from the book filter fitted into a funnel

 

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