Friday, February 19, 2016

College students building low-cost water filter for rural areas that lack modern water infrastructure

Students from the New Jersey Institute of Technology are using a grant from the Environmental Protection Agency to build a low-cost water filter that can help people in rural agricultural areas suffering from high rates of diseases from contaminated water, Tracey Regan reports for the NJIT. "The filter, which will sit inside a five-pound bucket, will be made of locally available clay mixed with hematite, a mineral containing iron oxide that binds with heavy metals. Colloidal silver, a suspension containing silver particles that captures biological pathogens such as e-coli and cholera, will be added to the filter." (NJIT photo)

"Nearly 40 students—from biologists to engineers—are working on various aspects of the project, from the design of the clay pot filters individual families would use to purify their water each day, to the development of prototype tests that will simulate local conditions, to research into government policies that encourage the use of fertilizers that contain toxic levels of cadmium and arsenic," Regan writes. "Their goal is to produce a prototype by the end of August."

"While the current prototype is being developed for Sri Lankan farming villages, the technology is designed to be extremely adaptable in order to suit a range of rural areas that lack modern water infrastructure," Regan writes. "Each version of the clay pot would be constructed of locally available materials such as clay, sawdust, bio-char, charcoal and hematite. The manufacturing process is both generic and simple."

Janitha Hewa Batagoda, a doctoral student and Sri Lanka native who is leading the project, told Regan, “We’re developing a filter that will absorb both heavy metals and disease-causing pathogens. The idea is to make it easy and inexpensive to manufacture, using locally available materials, and also ensure it is simple to use. Each system would cost the equivalent of about $5 and enable families to filter 10 gallons of water a day.” (Read more)

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