Virus Enterprise

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COLUMBIA - A new study at MU found a virus, combined with chlorine, cleans water better than just the standard chlorine treatment.  Civil Engineering researcher Zhigiang Hu, along with recent MU graduate Yanyan Zhang, said harmful bacteria can grow in bio-film, a slime-like material.  Bio-film is most commonly found in surface water, such as rivers, lakes, ponds etc. To remove that bio-film, the pair found a virus kills the bacteria and makes water safe to drink or for other uses.  

"By using a combined effort of chlorine and this virus, it has shown that it can be more effective in removing or killing these pathogens that are in the public concern," Hu said.

But will Columbia Water and Light start using this approach? Hu doesn't think that will be necessary.

"Columbia mainly used ground water for their drinking sources, and this water is already very clean, so they just have to have a quick cleaning though filtration followed by chlorination," Hu said.

Floyd Turner of Columbia Water and Light agrees, saying the water in Columbia is already very clean and doesn't need any more treatments before it reaches homes.

"We've been using chlorine forever.  To me, there is no better disinfectant around. You know that when you have chlorine residuals, your chlorine is safe to drink," Turner said.

But for other cities that use rivers or lake water, this application could keep make the water cleaner. 

"It can be potentially applied to waste treatment plants," Hu said.