Georgia Institute of Technology
Highly efficient, low-energy-consuming, reliable, and easily-applicable pathogen inactivation methods are in great demand for protecting human health from waterborne diseases, especially in regions suffering from energy shortages and infrastructure deficiencies. Nanowire-assisted low-voltage electroporation enables effective and energy-efficient pathogen inactivation. Nevertheless, the insufficient stability of the nanowires has become a major obstacle in practical applications: a state-of-the-art copper-oxide-nanowire-modified copper foam (CuONW-Cu) electrode can only sustain disinfection for about 10 minutes. We have tried two different strategies to improve the stability of the nanowires: 1) applying a protective polydopamine (PDA) coating and 2) converting CuONWs to Cu3PNWs. Applying either of these strategies has successfully increased the lifetime of the electrode to more than 10 hours while retaining the high microbial inactivation efficiency. In the meantime, the energy consumption of the electroporation disinfection process has been further reduced to 1.2 J per liter of water treated.