Engineers Without Borders presents biosand filter to Inventors Club
Published: Tuesday, November 16, 2010 - 3:24pm
Engineers Without Borders is an international nonprofit organization committed to advancing the quality of life in impoverished countries via socioeconomically and ecologically sustainable engineering projects.
The University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign chapter is founded on the philosophy of helping developing countries while also holding local events to educate people about sustainable development.
"It was basically about a club like ours on the college level that has been going on for a longer time; they've gone to the end result," said sophomore Yulun Wu, an officer of Inventors Club.
These U of I students spoke about a water purification project in Guatemala.
University of Illinois senior Kimberly Parker explained four different aspects of the project: actual implementation, research component, business plan, and outreach.
"At first, the chapter wanted to try to implement a centralized water system but due to land restraints, decided to use a "point of use" system in which each household cleans its water," said Parker.
The chapter chose biosand filters because of community support, available supplies, only one installation fee (important for low income areas) and easy maintenance.
The chapter educated the community on how the filters work, hoping that this would encourage them to learn more about the filters and take them over.
While the biosand filters are good at removing bacteria, they are ineffective against removing viruses, which are 100 times smaller than bacteria. To fix this problem, iron oxide in the form of steel wool was put into the sand layer of the filter to attract the positively charged viruses.
In order to spread biosand filters, the chapter formed a partnership with Centre for Affordable Water and Sanitation Technology (CAWSF), who owns the patent of the filter and is requesting further tests.
The presentation was symbolic of Inventors Club's own goals, which are similar to Parker's future plans.
"For myself, when I go on to grad school, I'm definitely going to try to make sure that the research I do and the work I do is applicable to the real world and benefiting society," said Parker.
Next summer, the chapter will be conducting research in Guatemala, in order to test the purification on the actual water the people in Socorro are drinking.