Material of the 21st century: plastics move the world

Different methods are available, such as the insertion of partial liners or flexible pipe or tube strands. The common factor is the insertion of a synthetic tube impregnated with synthetic resin (epoxy resin or polyurethane resin) or a flexible tube made of polyethylene or polypropylene into the damaged pipe and the leaks are sealed.

Besides the transport of water, synthetics also play a large role in the treatment and purification of drinking water. A major problem is the availability of clean drinking water. Currently clean water is in short supply for approximately 1.1 bil-lion people. According to the United Nations (UN), 6000 people die every day, around two million people each year, because the hygiene is not appropriate and there is no access to clean, safe drinking water.

Part of the problem is ‘home made’, the logical consequence of human existence: waste water. 2.4 billion people do not know what to do with their waste water. It is introduced into the environment without any treatment and purification and finds its way maybe into a lower-level drinking water reservoir in the area.

According to calculations, one liter of waste water can pollute eight liters of fresh water. Not surprisingly the main sufferers in this issue are people in the developing nations. But how can this problem be managed? Perhaps by decentralized solutions directly at the location of water withdrawal. The Swiss company Vestergaard Frandsen has developed a mobile, easily transportable water treatment unit, which apparently points in the right direction.

For their new, portable water purificantion system Lifestraw Family the company Vestergaard Fransen utilizes Ultrason E 6020 P, a polyether sulfon (PESU) created by BASF. The easy-to-operate plastic construction LifeStraw Family is used to purify large amounts of waste water on location in the villages and families into drinking water.

Central element is a plastic casing, approximately 30 centimeters in length, which contains filtering membranes made from Ultrason E. These achieve ultrafiltration (UF-membranes) and remove viruses as well as bacteria from dirty surface waters from rivers, lakes, rainwater collection barrels or even puddles. The special advantage of the high-performance synthetic material Ultrason E in these filters is that it can be processed extremely well into membranes with precisely adjustable pore sizes and therefore clearly defined filter characteristics. The mobile purification station drastically reduces the danger of diseases that are transmitted via dirty water, such as gastro-intestinal diseases. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), every year 1.8 million people die of the consequences of diarrhea.