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Nano Technologies for water purification: Utility, players & current status in India

The recent trend in utilization of Nano technologies for water purification seems to be a sound approach and a scientific innovation. Many Developed and Developing countries are considering the potential of Nano-science to solve technical challenges associated with the removal of water contaminants and provide 'potable' water to the community. This clearly indicates that the Nanotechnology could increase the availability of clean water in the developing world.

I certainly believe that the future generations of water-treatment devices will capitalize on the new properties of nano-scale materials and it may prove to be of an immense interest to all of us working for Water resource Development and Management.

I would like to know about the present utility of such technologies in INDIA.  Kindly convey me of the organizations (National and International) which are working on this concept and the different approaches/strategies adopted by them for the transfer of this technology to the community level.

Murali Kochu Krishnan,

Sr.Hydro-geologist, AFPRO.




Dear Murali Kochu Krishnan,

These technologies are very much in use in the country and many organizations are using them effectively. 65% of the R.O manufacturers are benefiting from it. Transfer of technology at community level is already being done; albeit commercially. If one needs a plant, all they have to do is buying. Transfer of technology is a commercial business and needs to be looked at in perspective.

With best regards,

Taral Kumar
Executive Director
Akar Impex Pvt. Ltd.
Noida, Uttar Pradesh


Dear Murali Kochu Krishnan,

You could look at our webpage for details. There are news items there. Several articles have appeared on our technologies for water purification. Several of these are compiled in this site.
A book on nanotechnology and water will be released shortly (early 2009).

Best wishes,

Prof. T. Pradeep
HSB 148, Unit on Nanoscience
Department of Chemistry and Sophisticated Analytical Instrument Facility
Indian Institute of Technology Madras
Chennai 600 036, India


Dear Murali Kochu Krishnan,

I have been curious about it myself and have periodically resorted to searches on Google and other search engines. After looking at a lot of material on the web, it became clear that a lot of research is being carried out in the developed countries. However, nanotechnology is applicable to a lot of things beside water. In USA, I found the EPA (Environmental Protection Agency) appears to be supporting a lot of research which seems to be taking place in well known universities. It became clear to me that no one as on date is anywhere near commercialization of Nano technology for water purification.

I have not been able to come across anything significant regarding work being done in India and hence can not answer the question giving information on what work is in progress in India on Nano technology. Interestingly, a membrane based process called "Nanofiltration" has been in use in developed countries as well as in India. Nanofiltration is used for removal of hardness from water. The company I used to work for has used Nanofiltration membranes in plants it has supplied to several customers 10 to 15 years ago.

As a practitioner of water management, I consider it far more important to work towards preventing the contamination of fresh water in India which is going to face a very grave situation with an acute shortage of fresh water. This shortage is due to our inability to control the problem of waste water generation and pollution of fresh water by this waste. Tried and proven technologies already exist to tackle this menace and we do not have to wait for Nano technology to do anything about this situation.


Ion Exchange


Dear Mr.Murali Kochu Krishnan,

Nano technology research to purify water is going on both in the private and public sectors.In the govt sector National Institute of Environmental Engineering research institute(NEERI),Nagpur has been carrying out research in this field.In the private sector since recent past concerted efforts are being made by couple of industries, including Eureka Forbes.I am not aware of the present status of these research efforts.

As detailed by Dr.Ranganathan we need to concentrate more on safe guarding surface and sub surface water bodies pollution, as these waters are getting contaminated by disorganised exploitation.Since a large segment of our population use the waters directly without filtration etc it is extremely necessary for the researchers to carry out studies that can arrest pollution and eliminate pollutants at the source and in the distributary channels.


Emeritus Scientist


Please see


Dr Uday Bhawalkar

Director R&D
Bhawalkar Ecological Research Institute (BERI), Pune


In response to your question I have copied something which I hope is relevant from my blog at: Please read the original blog where there are some links to useful sites. You are welcome to leave comments on the Practical Action blog site.

According to a UN report on the Millenium Development Goals (2008) there are still nearly 1 billion people without access to an improved water source. The report goes on to suggest that if current progress is maintained the target of 89% having access to improved water supplies will be reached by 2015. However, the broad picture hides some particularly challenging problems such as arsenic contamination in the Bay of Bengal and mercury contamination in the Andes of Peru.

Many existing technologies for water filtration require chemicals, high pressure (for example, in reverse osmosis) and need electricity. The claimed advantages of nanotechnology based filters is a high flow rate and low cost. Yet not many developing countries have any capability with nanotechnology. Some of the work that Practical Action has done in the past, and is continuing in Peru is attempting to change this through a process of dialogue with all key stakeholders.

Scientists in Mumbai, India (reported by Cleantech) are working on developing water filters based on nanotechnology. The carbon nanotube could be used to remove arsenic, fluoride, heavy metals and toxic organic chemicals. But to get technologies difussed to the people who need them will require some co-ordinated effort by all stakeholders, including communities, scientists and NGOs.

It will also be important to ensure that the nanotechnologies are used in a way which does not harm the environment or people. Let us hope that the scientists in India will work together with emerging groups like the Responsible Nano Forum.

Dr David J. Grimshaw
Head of International Programme: New Technologies
Practical Action, UK.

David Grimshaw is International Team Leader, New Technologies Programme, Schumacher Centre for Technology and Development Practical Action
Bourton Hall, Bourton-on-Dunsmore Rugby CV23 9QZ, United Kingdom.


Dear Murali Kochu Krishnan,

Candle filters are widely used by many house-holds for filtering the water and they reduce the suspended solids to a great extent though does not affect the bacteria. Nano-technology, in particular Nano-silver coating, on such candle filters reportedly reduces harmful bacteria in the water. International Advanced Research for Powder Metallurgy and New Materials (ARCI), Hyderabad (an R&D institution under this Department) developed such a process and it is showing promising results in reducing the bacteria loads to a considerable extent.

You may like to contact Dr Tata N Rao, a Senior Scientist and outstanding researcher in the subject area, who developed the above technology/process, at for further details thereon.

With kind regards

Dr Prasada Raju
Department of Science and Technology
Government of India


Dear Murali Kochu Krishnan,

The present Nano technology, as you know, the conventional ceramic candle filters made by RAMA or MAHARAJA are widely used in middle class house holds because of the low cost of the filters compared to costly filters like aqua-guard and others. However, the ceramic candles used in the stainless cans have high porosity with a pore size of 10-20 micrometers. While infection causing bacteria (E. coli and others) are in 1 micron size and smaller than the candle filter pores, the bacteria easily escapes in to the filtered water. Nanosilver technology of International Advanced Research Centre for Powder Metallurgy and New Materials (IARCI) allows the deposition of nanosilver in the pores of same filter candles and kills the bacteria during filtration. This is a real value addition through our patented technology.

The important point about this technology is that, because of the nano-size of silver, it is very active in anti-bacterial action and also due to small size, we need only small quantity of silver in the candle. For example, just 0.5 grams of nanosilver per one ceramic candle filter is enough to kill bacteria for about one year of candles life. The cost of 0.5 grams of silver being about 10 rupees, the cost of the filter will not increase much. For example, regular ceramic candle costs 40 rupees, while NanoTech filter costs about 90 rupees but with added advantage of killing bacteria. You do need to boil the water. Furthermore, these candles can be fitted into regular stainless steel filter containers. Therefore, with such a low cost, many households depending on normal filters like RAMA and MAHARAJA need to buy only nanotech candles and get the benefit of clean drinking water rather than buying a costly UV based filters.

The technology is filed for Indian patent and also presented at a forum on Drinking water mission at New Delhi. As the Technology being very useful to major part of society. It makes a big impact if the public is educated about the advantage of these filters.

Kindly go through the links:


Nanosilver-Coates Candle Filters for Drinking Water Purification

Tata Narasinga Rao
Team Leader
Centre for Nanomaterials
International Advanced Research Centre for Powder Metallurgy and New Materials (IARCI)


Dear Murali Kochu Krishnan,

Nanoscience on water treatment in India:

India is no way an exemption to the researches performed on nanotechnology based water treatment. Scientists from the I. I. T, Madras, Prof. T. Pradeep and A. Sreekumaran Nair, have patented technology to use gold and silver nanoparticles to filter endosulfan, Malathion and chlorpyrifos pesticides from water. The technology exploits the ability of the nanoparticles to bind residual pesticides from flowing water through adsorption.

The pesticide filter is an offshoot of basic research on the chemistry of nanoparticles, Prof. T. Pradeep has discovered that halocarbons such as carbon tetrachloride (CCl4) completely break down into metal halides and amorphous carbon upon reaction with gold and silver nanoparticles. The IIT study found that gold particles perform better in the case of endosulfan.
Under progression, it has not just ended with catalyst but also with other methods of water treatment based on nanotechnology.

Indian institute of technology at Kharagpur have already shown their potential in researches based on nano scale zero valent iron and nano-structured iron adsorbent. Banaras Hindu University has identified new methods for processing carbon nano tubes and nano mesh for filtering ultra fine particles in the water. Bharat heavy electrical together with Ceramic technological institute has emerged in to researches based on nanoporous ceramic membrane filter.

Moreover CSIR has collaborated with CSIRO in Australia in finding out a possible bio sensors for detection of contaminants like arsenic and pesticides in water. The meridian institute has already conducted a workshop in chennai on ‘’Nanotechnology, water development’’ in 2006 at chennai giving a wide exposure on the various methods in nanotechnology which can be used for water treatment.

National Environmental Engineering Research Institute has developed functionalized zeolitic & mesoporous materials as molecular imprinting & biomimicking agent for their applications in monitoring & control technologies. Target Oriented Zeolite Analogues for monitoring and Control Strategies for Organo Toxins were also found within the same research.

With all these ongoing scientific researches in India, it is expected that India would be on the top in the area of water treatment based on nanotechnology.

India, in turn has already allied with Brazil and South Africa in bringing out solutions in the area of energy, environment and water treatment. It is clearly said that, IBSA nanotechnology initiative was to formulate mega collaborative programmes of mutual interest.

List of universities in India focusing on water treatment based on nanotechnology.

• Indian Institute of Technology Madras.
• National Environmental Engineering Research Institute, Nagpur
• Jadavpur University, School of Environmental Studies (SOES), Kolkata.
• Indian Institute of Technology, Delhi
• Banaras Hindu University, Varanasi
• Ceramic Technological Institute, Bangalore
• Indian Institute of Technology, Roorkee
• Indian Institute of Technology, Kharagpur

Worldwide research trends

On viewing the potential results a wide spectrum has been created worldwide for research on water treatment based on nanotechnology. On the British geological survey it is found that a huge percentage of arsenic is found in major parts of North America, South America and Asia.

Researches are performed in due cause of this identification of arsenic in water in these areas. US have already initiated a lot of researches on water treatment based on nanotechnology on bringing potential results. Other than US, southern most part of Africa, the water is contaminated with arsenic, researches have been introduced to avoid arsenic poisoning. The survey conducted by Smedley illustrates that almost 30 countries are consuming drinking water with arsenic content. And almost 60 million people are at risk in Asia on drinking arsenic contaminated water.

On taking in account of the countries conducting researches on nanotechnology based water treatment, US are found to be the leaders. US and Israel have recently allied for projects that could bring potential results. Especially in developing, porous polymer-based ultra-filtration membranes with special coatings, coatings with antimicrobial capabilities, and mixed metal oxide nanostructured materials for the destruction of biological toxins in surface water and groundwater.

Rice University's Center for Biological and Environmental Nanotechnology are fighting against the most common and poisonous organic pollutants (TCE) in U.S. groundwater. The research on nanoparticles of gold and palladium as catalysts can be used as a remedy for most pervasive and troublesome groundwater pollutants, trichloroethene or TCE, which is commonly used as a solvent to degrease metals and electronic parts.

For its prevalence and its toxicity, it is considered one of the most hazardous chemicals contaminant in water. Human exposure to TCE has been linked to liver damage, impaired pregnancies and cancer. Cleanup costs for TCE nationwide are estimated in the billions of dollars. The Department of Defense alone estimates the cost of bringing its 1,400 TCE-contaminated sites into EPA compliance at more than $5 billion. The outcome of the research could bring a possible solution to the problems concerning TCE in the US grounds as well as worldwide.

With problems concerning the availability of fresh water, Australia stands high on conducting researches in water treatment based on nanotechnology. Australia's fast growing and dynamic nanotechnology sector has strong skills in the development and commercialization of environmental and water-treatment nanotechnologies.

Research ranging from new forms of industrial absorbents to nano-engineered filters for wastewater and chemical streams are swiftly moving towards commercial outcomes.

On considering desalination energy factor has to be considered the most, since a lot of energy is used for the process. In a country where they find themselves that desalination is the possible solution, delivery of energy efficient methods in Australia received a boost with the establishment of major new research collaboration between CSIRO and nine of Australia’s leading universities.

Membrane technology is the leading candidate for supplying fresh water through desalination and industrial water reuse. Nanotechnology breakthroughs in advanced membranes can provide a low energy solution to these separations, researchers in Australia seeks to develop new membranes for low energy desalination.

The research aims to dramatically increase efficiency, and reduce the financial and environmental costs of producing desalinated water. The membrane cluster brings together some of Australia’s leading scientists from a range of disciplines in a bid to place Australia at the forefront of novel membrane development. “In combination with other research projects led by CSIRO, their main aim is to reduce up to 50 per cent the amount of energy required to desalinate seawater using membranes. This same technology will have benefits for the treatment and recycling of wastewater.

REO Research, a private institute, was responsible for developing the method to produce ozone nano-bubbles. Royal Electric says its new equipment can either be used to produce water for food processing or for cleansing seafood as it has a stronger antibacterial effect than conventional ozone water.

List of Research institutes/ universities / Organisations worldwide working nanotechnology based water treatment

• Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT)
• Rice University
• Worcester Polytechnic Institute
• Stanford University
• Sandia National Laboratories
• U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)
• U.S. National Science Foundation (NSF)
• University of California at Los Angeles (UCLA)
• University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign (UIUC)
• Yale University
• University of Colorado,

• National Academy of Sciences of Belarus, Belarus
• Technical University of Denmark, Denmark
• Meridian Institute of Nanotechnology, UK
• Nanoscience and Technology Center Linz (NSTL), Austria

• Ben-Gurion University of the Negev, Israel
• Hebrew University of Jerusalem, Israel
• Technion Israel Institute, Israel
• Hong Kong University of Science and Technology, Hong Kong
• Nanyang Technological University, Singapore
• East China Normal University, China
• Japan's Research Institute for Environmental Management Technology (AIST), Japan

• Victoria University
• Curtin University of Technology
• Monash University
• Murdoch University
• Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology (RMIT)
• The University of Queensland
• The University of New South Wales (UNSW)
• University of Melbourne
• Africa
• University of Johannesburg

Thanks & Regards,

Jacob Sukumaran
Project Officer - Technology
Tamil Nadu Technology Development & Promotion Centre
Confederation of Indian Industry (SR)

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