A water disinfectant created on the spot using just hydrogen and the air around us is millions of times more effective at killing viruses and bacteria than traditional commercial methods, according to scientists from Cardiff University. Reporting their findings today in the journal Nature Catalysis, the team say the results could revolutionize water disinfection technologies and present an unprecedented opportunity to provide clean water to communities that need it most. Their new method works by using a catalyst made from gold and palladium that takes in hydrogen and oxygen to form hydrogen peroxide—a commonly used disinfectant that is currently produced on an industrial scale. The team showed that as the catalyst brought the hydrogen and oxygen together to form hydrogen peroxide, it simultaneously produced a number of highly reactive compounds, known as reactive oxygen species (ROS), which the team demonstrated were responsible for the antibacterial and antiviral effect, and not the hydrogen peroxide itself. The catalyst-based method was shown to be 10,000,000 times more potent at killing the bacteria than an equivalent amount of the industrial hydrogen peroxide, and over 100,000,000 times more effective than chlorination, under equivalent conditions. In addition to this, the catalyst-based method was shown to be more effective at killing the bacteria and viruses in a shorter space of time compared to the other two compounds.
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