In developing nations, access to clean water is a major humanitarian issue – so much so that numerous non-profits and foundations are dedicated specifically to providing access to basic sanitation. PureMadi, an organization of the University of Virginia, has invented two simple ceramic technologies for disinfecting water that are currently being developed for use in South Africa. The PureMadi filter and MadiDrop use ceramics treated with silver and copper nanoparticles to cheaply and efficiently eliminate 99.9% of waterborne pathogens.
PureMadi brings together an interdisciplinary team of students and professors dedicated to improving water quality. During the past year, the nonprofit was involved in establishing a ceramic water filter factory in the Limpopo province of South Africa. Before creating the MadiDrop tablet, the team produced several-hundred flowerpot-like filters composed of local clay and sawdust treated with silver or copper nanoparticles. Users are able to pour water into the pot, allowing it to filter into a five gallon bucket underneath. The pot can purify 1 to 3 liters per hour, enough to create enough water for cooking and cleaning. University of Virginia testing has shown that 99.9% of pathogens are killed using the process.
Once at capacity, the factory will be able to produce 500 to 1,000 filters each month. Each filter can serve a family of up to six, and PureMadi hopes to be able to serve 500,000 people a year. In addition to providing clean water, the factory will also become a way for the community to employ local workers.
The MadiDrop is the University’s newest invention and acts as an alternative to the pots, although it would ideally be used in tandem. Like the filters, each tablet is impregnated with silver or copper nanoparticles. By simply resting inside a vessel with contaminated water, it can be used repeatedly for half a year. By taking advantage of common materials and cutting edge technology, PureMadi is able to help impoverished areas empower themselves and improve basic living standards.