Lightning in a Canteen: The promise of plasma-treated refreshment for survival

Monday, March 2, 2020 - 4:15pm
Room #1 LeConte Hall
University of Michigan
Public Lecture: 

An emerging health problem is water contamination of our freshwater supplies, from waste derived from pharmaceuticals, personal care products, and industry. Health impacts to the public and aquatic life range from endochrine disruption to cancer. Advanced waterpurification treatment of both domestic drinking water and treated waste water is needed because conventional water treatment methods are inadequate for the increasing trace amounts of these contaminants and because the resiliency of domestic water supplies against issues such as drought and infrastructure failure need to be improved. "Advanced oxidation", which introduces reactive oxygen species (ROS), such as ozone, hydrogen peroxide and hydroxyls, for degrading contaminants into harmless byproducts by a process known as mineralization, is a conventional solution but requires non-water consumables, i.e., chemicals. In contrast, introducing "plasma" to interact with the problem water can drive advanced oxidation without the need for non-water consumables and can be tailored to address a wide range of contaminants. In this talk, we  review the threats to freshwater supplies, the shortcomings of conventional methods, and the promising solution posed by the interaction of plasma with water. Anecdotal cases of the effectiveness of this fascinating and effective approach to water treatment will be presented.