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Improving Access to Safe Water through Technology and Informed Design

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Impoverished communities that lack adequate access to safe drinking water require affordable, simple, and effective water treatment solutions. A multi-barrier approach to water purification provides the best protection against pathogens and undesirable chemicals. These barriers include sedimentation, filtration, advanced oxidation, and chemical disinfection. While municipal plants in developed countries usually employ two or more barriers, this is not always practical in household or small community water collection and treatment processes (UN World Water Development Report, 2005). In order to assure access to safe drinking water for households or small communities in less developed communities with limited infrastructure and resources, innovative yet affordable water treatment technologies and designs must be developed and implemented.

We describe our efforts to learn more about the needs of developing communities, and subsequently design sustainable, low-cost on-site disinfectant generators for the use scenario. The portable generators produce a chlorine-based solution using only salt and power. Designs incorporating solar and rechargeable batteries have been considered to provide a sustainable power source for the system. Cost-of-goods (COGS) were also considered to design a lower cost, yet durable electrolytic cell, circuit and housing. Many different form factors are continually being evaluated to address different cultural and social marketing considerations. Disinfection efficacy of the technology enables a 6 log reduction for bacteria challenges, 4 log reduction for virus challenges and 3 log reduction in Cryptosporidium parvum oocysts.

Keywords: Household water disinfection; chlorine residual; developing world water purification; portable chlorine generator; small community water disinfection

Document Type: Research Article


Publication date: January 1, 2009

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  • Proceedings of the Water Environment Federation is an archive of papers published in the proceedings of the annual Water Environment Federation® Technical Exhibition and Conference (WEFTEC® ) and specialty conferences held since the year 2000. These proceedings are not peer reviewed.

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