When two entirely unrelated words as ‘drinkable’ and ‘book’ are put together side by side, it takes us quite a while to grasp the practicality of the product it designates. However bizarre it might sound, the ‘ Drinkable Book ’ is undoubtedly a revolutionary invention.
Manufactured by a group of researchers in the USA, in collaboration with non-profit organisation WATERisLIFE, the ‘Drinkable Book’ is ensuring clean drinking water in developing countries of Africa and Asia.
So what exactly is ‘ Drinkable Book ’?
“It’s the first ever manual that provides safe water, sanitation, and hygiene education — all in one! Each page is a literal water filter inscribed with hygiene and sanitation education,” reads the description of the book on the WATERisLIFE website.
The book is the brainchild of Theresa Dankovich, a researcher at the Carnegie Mellon University, who designed an efficient filtration system with silver nanoparticles infused on a page made of cellulose. Later, she also upgraded the design by introducing copper nanoparticles, which give the same result, but at a lesser expense.
The advanced paper filter is capable of eliminating nearly 99.9% of disease-causing bacteria present in sewage water. When sewage-contaminated water is sieved through the filter, harmful bacteria like E.coli are killed by absorbing the silver and copper ions, which have noted antibacterial properties.
Each book can last up to four years
The filter has undergone several field tests in areas like South Africa, Ghana, Kenya, Haiti and Bangladesh, which face consistent scarcity of clean drinking water. At all places, the result has been astonishingly successful, ridding the polluted water of over 99% of contaminants.
The ‘Drinkable Book’ is a compilation of 25 pages of such filters, with information on sanitary hygiene printed on each page with edible colour. Each page can last for weeks and one book has the ability to solve an individual’s or a family’s water woes for up to four years.
The challenges and future prospects
Though the cutting-edge technology is turning heads in the scientific community, its sustainability in actual zones of need is yet to be ascertained properly. One main roadblock happens to be educating the people about how to use and replace the filters in time. Also, the book is still being developed further by researchers and would take some time before being commercially launched. In an interview with Washington Post, Dankovich had shared that her target was to bring down the cost of each filter within 10 cents (approx. INR 7) so that the underprivileged communities can afford the book easily.
At present, the filters are handcrafted which increases the production time and cost. The creator is aiming for automated bulk production of these, without compromising on the quality and efficiency.
If the ‘Drinkable Book’ is made available globally, it will certainly transform the dynamics of water wastage and recycling, helping the population take a big leap towards sustainable usage of this priceless resource.