IIT Kanpur to revolutionize water purification process with new patent win in collaboration with MIT, USA


Kanpur, May 6, 2022: In a path-breaking step towards water purification and water quality monitoring, IIT Kanpur and MIT USA have been granted a joint Indian patent for a novel water purification device. The invention titled “A Vessel and A Method for Purifying Water and Monitoring Quality of Water” is expected to be a quite cost-effective apparatus to check water quality.

Dr. Indra Sekhar Sen from the Department of Earth Sciences at IIT Kanpur, and Mr. K Sri Harsha (Founder, Kritsnam Technologies) collaborated with inventors Emily Barret Hanhauser (Fellow, MIT Tata Centre), Dr. Rohit N. Karnik (Professor of Mechanical Engineering; Associate Department Head for Education; Tata Professor, MIT, USA), Anastasios John Hart (Professor of Mechanical Engineering, MIT, USA), Michael Bono (Postdoctoral Associate, MIT Tata Centre), and Chintan H. Vaishnav (Senior Lecturer, Sloan School of Management, MIT, USA), for this project.
The availability of clean drinking water is one of the major problems that the world is facing. An estimated 844 million people lack access to an improved source of water, and it is projected that in 2025, half of the global population will live in high water stress regions. All the sources of water systems worldwide have been found to contain trace contaminants (microorganisms that can enter the food system) that are associated with a range of chronic, often incurable health conditions, including cancers, liver and kidney damage, as well as environmental damage, thus making the increasing presence of these contaminants, a critical concern.

It is to solve these problem statements that the team from IIT Kanpur and MIT, USA have developed the device. The objective is to overcome the challenges in both water availability and water quality monitoring, by creating a water purification vessel technology that not only provides clean water but is also cost-effective and allows for widespread monitoring of impurities.

Prof. Abhay Karandikar, Director, IIT Kanpur said, “At a time when the whole world is in the grip of several ongoing as well as potential environmental hazards, it is upon us all to contribute our bit. At IIT Kanpur, we always have a multi-disciplinary approach when it comes to research and development and this new patent is an example of that. I congratulate the team led by Prof. Indra Sen, K Sri Harsha, and their counterparts at MIT, USA for this novel device, which I believe would be revolutionary in terms of water quality monitoring and purification. This is a very timely and quintessential device to curb the issues plaguing clean water resources.”

The purification vessel contains a regenerable sorbent material capable of binding the impurities and preserving it in a moist or dry format, thus producing inorganic contaminant-free water at a cost as low as 2 Rs/litre. It can be procured without power and it does not leave any residual wastewater leading to zero maintenance expenses. The novelty of the device lies in its capability for both purification and measurement by a single channel, which no other system provides.
Additional application areas beyond drinking water include food and beverage industry, wastewater reuse, batch generation of deionized water and agricultural water monitoring. Furthermore, the vessel could be used in monitoring and purification of other liquids for human consumption, such as dairy products, soft drinks, or other ingestible liquids.

Inventor Dr. Indra Sen is an Associate Professor at the Department of Earth Sciences, IIT Kanpur with specialization in Isotope Geochemistry. K Sri Harsha is an alumnus of IIT Kanpur and Founder of Kritsnam Technologies, a startup incubated at the Startup Incubation and Innovation Centre, IIT Kanpur. Kritsnam Technologies is a pioneer in water resource management and have taken measures to promote ‘water intelligence’ through their devices.