Recycled Beer Yeast Could Help Remove Lead From Water

Researchers have discovered a sustainable and cost-effective method to combat water pollution by using recycled beer yeast to remove hazardous lead from water. Yeast, which causes fermentation, has the natural ability to filter water by absorbing heavy metal ions like lead through a process called biosorption. This method can bind and absorb lead even at low concentrations.

Initially, removing the yeast after it absorbed the lead was challenging. However, after three years of research, the team found a solution using hydrogel casings made of polyethylene glycol (PEG), which is sensitive to UV light. These casings, similar to multivitamin capsules but filled with yeast cells, allow for effective lead removal without yeast escaping into the water.

The researchers tested their method with a biofilter using hydrogel-yeast granules, which successfully removed trace lead from water over 12 days, demonstrating both efficacy and durability. This biofilter uses less energy than traditional methods like membrane filtration.

This innovation offers a sustainable water treatment solution, particularly beneficial for low-income regions. Future plans include recycling and replacing filter yeast, developing eco-friendly hydrogels, and expanding the filter’s capabilities to address other contaminants such as microplastics and persistent chemicals.

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