Posted: December 7, 2009

Tata employs nanotechnology to make world's most cost-effective water filter

(Nanowerk News) Pure water is one of the world’s most precious natural resources. With much of India’s population denied access to safe drinking water, the delivery of safe, convenient and affordable water purification is one of the biggest social and technological challenges in the country today.
Responding to this challenge, Tata Chemicals today unveils ‘Tata Swach’ - a unique and innovative water purifier. Requiring no energy or running water to operate, an early version of the product first saw the light of day as part of the Tsunami relief efforts. Today, the replaceable filter-based product, which is entirely portable and based on low-cost natural ingredients, delivers safe drinking water at a new market benchmark of Rs.30/- per month for a family of five.
Tata Swach
Tata Swach
Speaking at the launch, Mr. Ratan N Tata, Chairman, Tata Sons said: “Safe drinking water is the most basic of human needs. The social cost of water contamination is already enormous and increases every year. Although today’s announcement is about giving millions more people affordable access to safe water, it is an important step in the long term strategy to find a solution to provide affordable access to safe water for all.”
‘Tata Swach’, is the result of years of collaboration between several Tata companies, including TCS, Tata Chemicals and Titan. Based on an innovative concept developed by the TCS Innovation Labs - TRDDC, the Swach technology combines low-cost ingredients such as rice husk ash with superior nano – technology. The efficiency of the product has been rigorously tested to meet internationally accepted water purification standards.
Water-borne disease is the single greatest threat to global health, with diarrhea, jaundice, typhoid, cholera, polio, and gastroenteritis spread by contaminated water. According to a 2007 United Nations report, half of the world’s hospital beds are occupied by patients suffering from water-borne diseases. In India, such diseases cause more than 1.5 times the deaths caused by AIDS and double the deaths caused by road accidents.
Built around a bulb-like water purifier made of natural elements like rice husk ash impregnated with nano-silver particles, ‘Tata Swach’ is convenient to use. It produces clean and safe water without using electric power or running water, which is often not available in rural areas. The cartridge bulb is packed with a purification medium which has the capability to kill bacteria and disease causing organisms. It can purify up to 3000 litres of water after which the cartridge stops water flow. The water purifier gives the user enough lead time for cartridge replacement. Fourteen patents have been filed for the technology and product.
Commenting on the launch, Mr. R Gopalakrishnan, Vice Chairman, Tata Chemicals said, “Safe drinking water is a basic human right. ‘Tata Swach’ combines technology, performance, convenience and above all affordability to serve this basic human right of millions of consumers. The Company has made affordability an important part of its innovation efforts. Tata Swach can play its part in the national efforts to reduce water borne diseases.”
Mr S Ramadorai, Vice Chairman TCS said “It was the pressing need of people trapped by the effects of natural disasters such as the Tsunami that saw the deployment of one of the earliest versions of this product. A key part was the insight that a natural material like rice husk can be processed to significantly reduce water borne germs and odours when impure water is passed through it. At TCS, we are enormously proud to have played our part in originating this technology which TCL has made into a consumer friendly offering.
Speaking on the superior technology used in developing ‘Tata Swach’, Dr. Murali, Sastry, Chief Scientific Officer, Innovation Center and one of topmost nano-scientists in the world said, “It is an enormous privilege to be a part of the development team on a project which has the potential of positively impacting the lives of millions of people globally.”
Mr. R Mukundan, Managing Director, Tata Chemicals Limited said, “With the launch of Tata Swach, we are taking a small step towards fulfilling our Chairman’s vision of making safe drinking water available for all at an affordable cost. Just as Tata Chemicals dedicated itself to the eradication of Goiter with Tata Salt, so with the launch of this product we are committing ourselves to work towards wiping out the curse of water-borne diseases.”
Source: Tata (press release)