- Future product designers will need to find ways to keep the wood damp or dry while maintaining the functionality of the xylem tissue.
- The wood probably can't filter most viruses because they are too small for the pores to capture.
- Pores in the wood are also too big to filter out salt.
A simple solution to dirty water: tree branches
— By Tyler Falk on February 27, 2014, 1:39 PM PST
I haven't seen the original report, so I don't know what wood they were using. However it would matter what wood and how long the piece of branch you use. The water conducting tissue of wood is made up of dead cells. In hardwoods, as for example Oak or Ash, there of columns, sometimes dozens of cells long, of these conducting cells, called vessel elements, in which the mutual end walls are missing. Each of these columns of cells, called vessels, terminates in a cell with only one open end. Water must then pass to the adjoining vessels, above and below, through very fine pores, or pits, in the conjoining cell walls of such terminating cells. If the piece of branch in use is shorter than the average vessel length of that particular species, there would be very little filtration of bacteria, as the branch would consist of a series of open conduits. As longer branches are used, pressure would be needed to force water through the end wall pores (pits) to adjoining vessels. Your example of a Pine branch might work with quite short pieces of branch, as conifers such as Pine or Spruce do not have vessels. Rather water can pass from cell to cell only through cell wall pits. Thus ends your tutorial in wood anatomy.
I can see how such a filtration system would work, but I would think it would require a head of pressure to filter a usable amount of water in a reasonable length of time.
Dr. Arthur R. Berg
Back in my girl guide days, I read in a survival guide that if you were thirsty, cut a branch off of a yellow birch and suck the sap. It's almost pure water and will be free of contaminants.
So it seems to me that this is a new discovery of something that was known a long time ago.
Putt putt on South Lamar, walk the shops on South Congress, lunch at Lucy's Fried Chicken on north Burnet, ride the air at iFly on 183, hike Mt. Bonnell for a sunset picnic!
@a.berg Thanks for the comment. It reminded me of an important piece of information I left out of the original post. The researchers said the system I described above was able to filter four liters of water in a day. I added the information to the post.