Gallery: Two US Students Develop Affordable Ceramic Water Filtration Sy...


Two US students from Penn State University have developed an affordable ceramic water filtration system for Africa’s Sub-Saharan countries. The system is based on a design by the non-profit organization Potters for Peace, and it can be built in just two days for $200.

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Working under the Penn State’s Humanitarian Engineering and Social Entrepreneurship (HESE) program, students Kory Hansen and Jin Ju Kim first tested and tried the filters on the Penn State campus. The system removed 99.9 percent of bacteria and it shows promise as a method of securing fresh water for homes in rural East African home, eliminating the need to go to long distances to collect it.

“The filter itself, made of clay and sawdust, eliminates 80 percent of the bacteria and pathogens. When it is coated in silver, it reacts and makes it 99 percent effective. However, silver is probably the only thing not local, and it had to be imported from India or China,” said Hansen.

“The water didn’t go through the local clay very well. We didn’t realize the clay had to be prepared differently. We fired it at the temperature used in the classroom, and the mixture of sand and clay turned to glass and filled the holes that filter the water,” she added.

After working on the water filter system, the students took up another micro-financed project, dealing with social needs of women in African countries. Their aim is to have the results published in an international journal later this year.




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  1. Waranu Water February 8, 2013 at 2:04 am

    What an exciting concept!

    The beauty in this innovation is that clean water is no longer an element of charity or some handout. These low cost water filters only require education and training for the communities to be empowered to filter their own water.

    We have teamed up with a charity See Beyond Borders to help support rural communities in Cambodia through our company. These kind of innovations are going to help us make such a massive impact.

    Thanks for the great article!

    Also, I’d love to hear from anyone that has experience with water projects in developing communities for a blog series we want to run!

  2. bobanders January 25, 2013 at 9:22 am

    AdamMichaels – we’re not talking home water filters here. These are water filtration systems for third world countries that don’t currently have access to clean water systems. Professional mobile water purification systems can cost substantially more than $200 because of the technology and expertise required to set them up.

    I think this is a great innovative way for countries who can’t afford a professional grade water filtration system to still provide clean water to their people.

  3. adammichaels January 23, 2013 at 8:39 pm

    I can understand people trying to help solve the world\\\’s water problems by trying to find new solutions regarding water filters, however, this will not be one that is going to be applied. $200 is way too expensive for the people who really need it to be able to afford it. Not only that, there are other water filters out on the market already that do an equal or better job for less cost/price.

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