The Yissum Research Development Company, the technology transfer arm of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, has come up with an environmentally-friendly, biological solution for purifying contaminated water.

The invention uses bacteria as novel biofilters to reduce nitrate levels in water sources.

“The invention developed by the Hebrew University researchers highlights the commitment of the university for researching clean, environmentally-friendly and efficient solutions for global needs. Water quality is of utmost important for every aspect of life on our plant, on land and in the sea,” said Yaacov Michlin, CEO of Yissum. “This novel technology, for decontaminating water from nitrates and boron, is a cost-effective and efficient technique for decontaminating water from various substances without producing other contaminants, and can therefore be integrated in a multitude of water purifying systems, for agricultural or consumption purposes, as well as for maintaining sea water quality.”

The new system was developed by Hebrew University Professors Amos Nussinovitch, Department of Biochemistry, Food Science, and Nutrition and Jaap van Rijn, Department of Animal Science, Robert H. Smith Faculty of Agriculture, Food and Environment; and Dr. Yosef Tal, from GFA Advanced Systems.

The scientists developed novel polymer carrier beads that are loaded with denitrifying bacteria to create bio-filters for the removal of nitrates from water.

The novel nitrate bio-filter can reduce high nitrate levels in both fresh-water and sea-water, and is easily applicable to water-purification systems for aquariums and nitrate-contaminated bodies of water. The invention can improve water quality for a wide range of aquarium fish, thereby extending their life expectancy. The efficiency of the novel technology was demonstrated in aquariums of up to 200 liters, where nitrate accumulation was successfully controlled. Currently, the technology is tested for treating large amounts of water and in purifying wells of groundwater by removing nitrate.

The technology was introduced at the WATEC Conference in Tel Aviv last week.