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The Development Of A Water Purification System For Use In West Africa

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2008 Annual Conference & Exposition


Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

Publication Date

June 22, 2008

Start Date

June 22, 2008

End Date

June 25, 2008



Conference Session

Service - Learning Projects

Tagged Division

Environmental Engineering

Page Count


Page Numbers

13.1215.1 - 13.1215.11



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Paper Authors

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Bradley Rogers Arizona State University

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Mark Henderson Arizona State University

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Thomas Sugar Arizona State University

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Chell Roberts Arizona State University

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NOTE: The first page of text has been automatically extracted and included below in lieu of an abstract

The Development of a Water Purification System for use in West Africa

Abstract In this paper, we describe the results of a project in which undergraduate engineering students developed and deployed a water purification system for use in rural Africa. The location of the project is a small village of 392 people in rural Ghana named Famanye, which is approximately a 40-minute drive from Accra, the capital. The only water sources in the village are brackish water from a pump and a very small, terribly polluted runoff-fed pond. The water from the pump is too salty for consumption, and the residents are forced to use the water from the pond, since the nearest fresh water source is two kilometers away. To address this problem, a team of students in the multidisciplinary engineering program on the Polytechnic campus of Arizona State University are developing a water purification system based on a unique, patented heat recovery scheme in which heat transferred from the clean water condensation process is used to evaporate the contaminated water. The result is that the needed heat input to the system is greatly reduced; the system is simplified; and the units can be reliably deployed in undeveloped rural areas. The system has been designed to be low cost, easy to produce and to require little maintenance, enabling the village to manufacture and sell the units to neighboring villages. The project described in this paper is part of a larger interdisciplinary initiative at ASU known as GlobalResolve, in which sustainable entrepreneurial models for economic progress in developing countries are pursued. This leads to unique design constraints on projects that result in very rewarding experiences for the students involved.

Introduction Clean water is essential to all people on earth. However, ninety-nine percent of water on Earth is unsafe or unavailable to drink and 1.2 billion people lack safe water to consume while 2.6 billion do not have access to adequate sanitation. Just to emphasize the comparison between the haves and have-nots: “Just one flush of a toilet in the West uses more water than most Africans have to perform an entire day's washing, cleaning, cooking and drinking.1” Waterborne illnesses from polluted water kill more than 1.6 million young children each year, according to UNICEF. Many organizations have targeted clean water as a priority goal. Rotary International, whose past focus on eradicating polio in the world has been wildly successful is moving its emphasis to clean water. Rotary's 'Safe Water Saves Lives, Solar Water Purifier' project, now in its sixth year, has provided more than 200 solar water purifying units to poor communities in the Solomon Islands, Sri Lanka, Nigeria and other developing areas2. The United Nations Millennium Development Goals include a proposal to cut in half, by 2015, the proportion of people without sustainable access to safe drinking water and basic sanitation. In sub-Saharan Africa, home to Ghana, that proportion was reduced from 52 percent to 44 percent between 1990 and 2004. The target is 26 percent3. This paper describes a student project as a part of the GlobalResolve program conducted at ASU which has two combined goals: provide a village in Ghana with a sustainable way to generate clean water from polluted sources and create a sustainable model of entrepreneurship that can improve the village economy.

Rogers, B., & Henderson, M., & Sugar, T., & Roberts, C. (2008, June), The Development Of A Water Purification System For Use In West Africa Paper presented at 2008 Annual Conference & Exposition, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. 10.18260/1-2--3783

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