Affordable water filter inspired by puff pastry

A simple layered paper, inspired by French puff pastry, could improve the quality of life for millions of people by removing resistant viruses from water.

The sheet made of cellulose nanofibers in the mille-feuille filter which can remove resistant viruses from water. Research led by Albert Mihranyan, Professor of Nanotechnology at Uppsala University, Image by Simon Gustafsson.

More than 748 million people lack access to safe drinking water and basic sanitation. Expensive life-saving water filters and chemical disinfectants are out of reach in most developing regions, leaving the already vulnerable at risk of viral outbreaks. To provide a simpler filtration alternative, researchers at Uppsala University in Sweden created the mille-feuille filter.

The mille-feuille filter has a unique layered internal architecture resembling that of the French puff pastry mille-feuille, which translates to “thousand leaves.” Made of cellulose nanofibers, the filter physically removes the microorganisms from water. Cellulose is one of the most common filtering media used in daily life from tea-bags to vacuum cleaners. The mille-feuille filter paper comes equipped with too large pores to remove viruses.

“With a filter material directly from nature, and by using simple production methods, we believe that our filter paper can become the affordable global water filtration solution and help save lives,” says Albert Mihranyan, Professor of Nanotechnology at Uppsala University, who heads the study.

“Our goal is to develop a filter paper that can remove even the toughest viruses from water as easily as brewing coffee.”

Another application of the filter includes the production of therapeutic proteins and vaccines, but its main aim to facilitate the move from more expensive filtration mechanisms to affordable, advanced filtration solutions.

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