Scientists, Dr. VM Bhandari and his group at CSIR-NCL Pune, with support from the Water Technology Initiative of the Department of Science and Technology (DST), Government of India, has developed the novel hybrid technology called ‘SWASTIIK’ (Safe Water and Sustainable Technology Initiative from Indian Knowledgebase) that involves boiling of a liquid as a result of pressure reduction (cavitation) and also uses natural oils having antimicrobial properties. This technology can eliminate harmful bacteria, including antimicrobial-resistant bacteria, economically. It not only integrates Indian traditional knowledge of Ayurveda for complete disinfection of water but also may offer 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. The process, which draws inspiration from Indian traditional knowledge, 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. It was 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 can have significant benefits in terms of providing SAFE WATER and also possible health benefits that can also boost immunity, an important aspect as underlined in the current COVID-19 era.
The common drawbacks of chemical methods such as chlorination include formation of harmful/ carcinogenic disinfection by-products. Therefore, it is pertinent to develop technology that provides safe and healthy drinking water at low cost with substantial ease of operation, scale-up, and without harmful disinfection by-products.