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NCER Grantee Research Project Results

Community-Scale Water Treatment System for Application in Developing Countries

EPA Grant Number: SU835345
Title: Community-Scale Water Treatment System for Application in Developing Countries
Investigators: Blatchley III, Ernest R , Applegate, Bruce M. , Foster, Kenneth A , Simpson, Vicki L
Current Investigators: Blatchley III, Ernest R , Applegate, Bruce M. , Barrett, Emily , Berry, Stuart , Camp, Kevin , Caporaso, Philip , Dyer, Kelly , Foster, Kenneth A , Fouty, Madison , Kanach, Andrew , LeRose, Danielle , Leonard, Kyle , McDonald, Tia , Meredith, Shelby , Mieher, Joshua , Ortiz, Angela , Richards, Libby A , Ryan, Aislyn , Simpson, Vicki L , Sununtnasuk, Celeste , Vasquez, Clara , Venort, Taisha
Institution: Purdue University - Main Campus
EPA Project Officer: Nolt-Helms, Cynthia
Project Period: August 15, 2012 through August 14, 2013
Project Amount: $15,000
RFA: P3 Awards: A National Student Design Competition for Sustainability Focusing on People, Prosperity and the Planet (2012)
Research Category: Pollution Prevention/Sustainable Development , P3 Challenge Area - Energy , P3 Challenge Area - Water



The objectives of this project are to develop a community-scale water treatment system to yield improvements in water quality. By extension, this project is expected to reduce the disease burden in the affected community; quantification of the effect of this project on disease burden is also an objective. Lastly, this project is expected to provide opportunities for economic development, largely through entrepreneurial activities that are initiated in the target community. These benefits will also be characterized and quantified in this project.


A multi-disciplinary service-learning class will be initiated at Purdue University to evaluate and develop a community-scale water treatment system for use at one or more schools in the Santiago, Dominican Republic area. The system will involve slow sand filtration coupled with either low-pressure membranes or solar UVB disinfection. Experiments will be conducted to characterize and compare these systems for improvement of water quality, improvement of public health, and development of economic activity.

Expected Results:

The expected outcomes of this Phase I project include designs for community-scale water treatment systems, assessments of potential for public health improvement, and an assessment of the potential to promote job creation and economic activity in connection with these systems. The proposed water treatment systems have the potential to accomplish water treatment without the use of electrical power. As such, they represent treatment approaches that could be beneficial in developing countries. However, similar systems could also be incorporated into disaster response efforts, or water treatment systems in some developed countries.

The proposed water treatment systems are expected to yield consistent improvements in drinking water quality for people in the target communities. By extension, these improvements in water quality are expected to yield decreases in the frequency of disease outbreaks and overall improvement in public health in the target communities. Another benefit of the proposed water treatment systems is that they require no electrical power. Boiling is a common water treatment process in many developing countries. Boiling usually involves combustion of carbon-based fuels, such as charcoal or wood. By diverting water treatment from boiling to the proposed system, the carbon footprint associated with water treatment is reduced. And given that the proposed water treatment systems will scale easily, there may be opportunities to apply similar systems in communities in developed countries, including the U.S.

Supplemental Keywords:


Progress and Final Reports:
Final Report

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The perspectives, information and conclusions conveyed in research project abstracts, progress reports, final reports, journal abstracts and journal publications convey the viewpoints of the principal investigator and may not represent the views and policies of ORD and EPA. Conclusions drawn by the principal investigators have not been reviewed by the Agency.

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