Research Grants/Fellowships/SBIR

UV-Tube Design Concept for Sustainable, Point-of-Use Water Disinfection

EPA Grant Number: SU832462
Title: UV-Tube Design Concept for Sustainable, Point-of-Use Water Disinfection
Investigators: Nelson, Kara , Connelly, Lloyd G. , Kammen, Dan
Current Investigators: Nelson, Kara , Kammen, Dan
Institution: University of California - Berkeley
EPA Project Officer: Nolt-Helms, Cynthia
Project Period: September 30, 2005 through May 30, 2006
Project Amount: $75,000
RFA: P3 Awards: A National Student Design Competition for Sustainability Focusing on People, Prosperity and the Planet - Phase 2 (2005) Recipients Lists
Research Category: Pollution Prevention/Sustainable Development , P3 Challenge Area - Water , P3 Awards , Sustainability


The 2002 World Health Organization (WHO) report on worldwide mortality indicates that waterborne illnesses associated with unsafe drinking water and poor sanitation are still a major cause of death in the developing world. Although a variety of methods exist for treating drinking water, many people do not have access to these lifesaving technologies. In their absence, families face economic hardship due to lost workdays and expenditures for health care. When water treatment methods are accessible, they often consume significant energy or have environmental consequences such as deforestation, increased solid wastes, or air pollution.

The UV-Tube is a design concept for disinfecting drinking water at the point of use—the household tap or neighborhood well. UV-Tube designs use ultraviolet (UV) light to inactivate harmful microorganisms that may be present in water. To be appropriate for use in developing countries UV-Tubes must be affordable (designs have been made for $40), passive, easy to use, and simple to understand. Furthermore, UV-Tubes must be built from locally available parts and operated without daily vigilance. Currently, there are two UV-Tube designs —a stainless steel-lined PVC tube (ss-PVC) and a ferro-cement trough with cover— which were developed by graduate students from the Energy & Resources Group and the Civil & Environmental Engineering Department at UC Berkeley.

The overall purpose of the UV-Tube project is to make UV water disinfection available to those who need it most. Phase I P3 funding was sought to validate UV-Tube designs in the laboratory and the field, to recruit new, diverse members to the UV-Tube team, and to use the UV-Tube project to foster discussion of sustainable design concepts on campus. In Phase II, we will mainly focus on dissemination to further develop and modify the UV tube as a sustainable solution for improving drinking water quality. A wide range of activities on campus are coordinated through the student organization Engineers for a Sustainable World – Berkeley; the UV Tube is also being incorporated as design project into several undergraduate courses. Field work is conducted in collaboration with several partner organizations in Mexico.

The UV-Tube concept has the potential to improve people’s health by reducing the rates of waterborne illness at a low cost. Better health allows families to save valuable financial resources, and entrepreneurs can sell UV-Tubes, increasing economic prosperity. Compared with other common methods of obtaining safe water, UV-Tubes are less of a burden on the planet, using less energy without generating significant pollution. Furthermore, it is our hope that the UV-Tube design concept can help to improve the lives of the next generations wherever it is implemented.

Publications and Presentations:

Publications have been submitted on this project: View all 1 publications for this project

Supplemental Keywords:

engineering, drinking water, disinfection, human health, pathogens, innovative technology, economic development, RFA, Scientific Discipline, INTERNATIONAL COOPERATION, Water, TREATMENT/CONTROL, POLLUTANTS/TOXICS, Sustainable Industry/Business, Chemical Engineering, Environmental Chemistry, Sustainable Environment, Arsenic, Technology, Technology for Sustainable Environment, New/Innovative technologies, Water Pollutants, Drinking Water, clean technologies, detoxification, environmental sustainability, green engineering, other - risk assessment, adsorption, arsenic removal, treatment, drinking water distribution system, activated carbons, UV tube, drinking water contaminants, drinking water treatment, UV light emitting diodes, drinking water system, green chemistry

Relevant Websites: (30 pp, 234 K, about PDF) Exit Exit

Phase 1 Abstract
Phase 1 Final Report

Progress and Final Reports:
Final Report