A team of researchers from Georgia Tech and Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) has developed yeast-infused hydrogel capsules to potentially filter polluted water.

Specifically, the researchers suggest that the tons of discarded yeast from beer breweries could potentially filter out lead from contaminated water quickly. Such technology could potentially benefit low-income areas with heavy lead water pollution.

Source: MITSource: MIT

To accomplish this, the researchers used the hydrogel capsules, which absorb large amounts of fluids, to construct a porous filter that collects lead as water passes through it. The researchers suggest that this filtering process is eco-friendly and uses less energy than other lead removal methods.

Making yeast an appropriate ingredient in this process is that it naturally binds with heavy metal ions even at low quantities through a process known as biosorption, which allows yeast to absorb even tiny quantities of lead and other heavy metals from water. Because the yeast cells are contained within the hydrogel capsules, they can reportedly be easily isolated from the water once purified and safe for drinking.

“We have the hydrogel surrounding the free yeast that exists in the center, and this is porous enough to let water come in, interact with yeast as if they were freely moving in water, and then come out clean,” explained the researchers.

The team is eyeing the yeast-infused hydrogel capsules for possible use in household faucets and large-scale treatment plants.

Further, the team determined that the capsule’s mechanical robustness withstood various flow rates without failure.

An article detailing the yeast-infused capsules, “Yeast-laden hydrogel capsules for scalable trace lead removal from water,” appears in the journal RSC Sustainability.

To contact the author of this article, email mdonlon@globalspec.com