Scientists Find Natural Water Filter in Tree Branches

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Researchers from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology have discovered a natural water filtration system inside the branches of a sapwood white pine tree. After stripping the bark from a branch, they found that it was capable of filtering up to 4 liters of river or lake water a day, cleaning 99 percent of E. coli bacteria and producing clean, potable water.

Researchers from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology have discovered a natural water filtration system inside the branches of a sapwood white pine tree.

After stripping the bark from a branch, they found that it was capable of filtering up to 4 liters of river or lake water a day, cleaning 99 percent of E. coli bacteria and producing clean, potable water.

But the sapwood branch could only filter out material that was larger than 20 nanometers, so viruses and other potentially harmful material that is smaller than that could pass through.

Rohit Karnik, co-author of the study and associate professor of mechanical engineering at MIT is quoted as saying: “There could be much better plants out there that are suitable for this process. Ideally, a filter would be a thin slice of wood you could use for a few days, then throw it away and replace at almost no cost.”

There are still some practical problems that need to be solved before the tree branch water filtration system can be implemented, for example, the wood doesn’t filter as well when it’s dry.

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