The Valencia-iGEM team, comprising scientists and students from several universities in Valencia, have developed a biological system to disinfect contaminated water. The system was developed within the field of synthetic biology and has biological parts that replace the electronic ones. The configuration needs 60 to 80 W of electrical power to operate, which are obtained from solar photovoltaic modules donated by the company Eurener.
The biosynthetic water treatment system forms part of an international project and is powered using solar photovoltaic energy. The entire system only requires 60 to 80 watts of power to work (which are obtained from solar photovoltaic modules donated by Eurener). According to the Valencia-based company, the system “is able to eliminate certain pathogens such as listeria and salmonella, causing gastrointestinal disorders and thousands of deaths every year, thanks to genetic modification of E. coli bacteria to produce bacteriocins, which are specific proteins that destroy the pathogens and which do not affect other bacteria or humans”.
The device consists of three main parts, one where bacteriocins are created, another one where you enter the water to disinfect and third that acts as switch for the whole process. Because its primary use is for economically depressed areas where electricity is hard to get, to facilitate its expansion and management it obtains power from a solar photovoltaic module, in this case is the Black Panel that Eurener has given free to the scientists team to support this project. Thus, explains Eurener, the device has sufficient autonomy to be installed anywhere and even be transported to different tanks and water sources within the same area helping more people.
The Valencia-iGEM team comprises scientists and students from the Polytechnic University of Valencia (UPV), the Catholic University of Valencia (UCV) and the University of Valencia (UV), and is coordinated by the Interdisciplinary Modelling Group (InterTech) of the UPV and the Energesis Chair of the UCV.
The iGEM (international Genetically Engineered Machine) competition is organised by the prestigious Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), and aims to “disseminate and promote synthetic biology among the younger members of the scientific community”. Valencia-iGEM was the first Spanish team to participate in the competition, which it has attended continuously since 2006. The Valencian group has achieved resounding success since its beginning, which is highlights by the third place worldwide achieved in 2009 and the Gold Medal received in 2010.
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