Ayurveda and modern technology synergise to provide safe and inexpensive water


Students demonstrating hybrid cavitation technology at NCL and IIT Bombay-TechFest 2020 (Pic: Courtesy PIB)

The synergy of ancient knowledge and modern means can help in more than one ways. That is what came to the fore recently as new technology and Indian traditional knowledge of Ayurveda combined to find a solution to disinfect water completely while offering possible health benefits of natural oils.

The normal process of disinfection of water means essentially removing pathogenic microorganisms that are responsible for causing a number of water-borne diseases. The common drawbacks, however, of the chemical methods such as chlorination include formation of harmful/ carcinogenic disinfection by-products. Keeping that in mind, it is important and pertinent to develop technology that can provide safe and healthy drinking water. The other attributes of this technology must be that it must be low cost while allowing substantial ease of operation, scale-up, without leaving any harmful disinfection by-products.

Working on this specific field, scientists, Dr. VM Bhandari and his group at the Council of Scientific And Industrial Research-National Chemical Laboratory, Pune, have developed a novel hybrid technology called SWASTI (Safe Water and Sustainable Technology Initiative from Indian Knowledgebase).

The technology developed with support from the Water Technology Initiative of the Department of Science and Technology (DST), Government of India, involves boiling of a liquid as a result of pressure reduction (cavitation). It  also uses natural oils having antimicrobial properties.

The purification process explained

Through this technology harmful bacteria are eliminated, including antimicrobial-resistant bacteria, economically. By integrating the Indian traditional knowledge of Ayurveda for complete disinfection of water the technology also offers possible health benefits of natural oils.

The technique used -- hydrodynamic cavitation combines chemistry, biology, and chemical engineering along with natural resources in the form of natural oils and plant extracts.

Having been inspired by the Indian traditional knowledge, the process has resulted in increased efficiency and reduced cost of water treatment.

The team achieved complete elimination for gram-negative E. coli and gram-positive S. aureus bacteria and even AMR bacteria/ difficult opportunistic pathogenic bacteria typically in 5-10 minutes.

During the process it was also observed that increased rates of disinfection using oil can drastically reduce the time of operation and consequently reduce cost as compared to other advanced treatment processes.

The novel strategy of SWASTIIK besides providing safe and clean water, which is essential for a healthy society, can also have possible health benefits that can help in increasing immunity, which is important in the present Covid-19 pandemic.

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