Xylem Filtration: The Next Generation Approach to Accessing Clean Drinking Water

EPA Grant Number: SU836129
Title: Xylem Filtration: The Next Generation Approach to Accessing Clean Drinking Water
Investigators: Landsbergen, Kim
Institution: Antioch College
EPA Project Officer: Sergeant, Anne
Phase: I
Project Period: September 1, 2015 through August 31, 2016
Project Amount: $14,796
RFA: P3 Awards: A National Student Design Competition for Sustainability Focusing on People, Prosperity and the Planet (2015) RFA Text |  Recipients Lists
Research Category: P3 Awards , Pollution Prevention/Sustainable Development , Sustainability , P3 Challenge Area - Water

Objective:

Reliable access to clean and safe water for bathing, cooking and drinking is a top global priority for humans all over the world. Although clean water access is often considered a ‘developing country’ issue, even in the United States brief failures of municipal water supplies have left thousands without access to clean water for days (Toledo OH) or weeks (Charleston WV). Our objective for this project is to develop and test a novel wood-based (xylem) water filtration system that could be used in cases of emergency, disaster response, and acute water shortage. Our main research goal is to investigate the feasibility of tree xylem as a new and novel water filtration technology that can meet national drinking water standards. Our kit will feature wood (xylem) as a key component of the filtration system, because wood anatomy has many fine pores that may be useful to remove undesired contaminants.
 

Approach:

We will: 1) optimize the application of xylem filter technology to determine which type of tree filters water to the highest quality, and to evaluate the range of water quality produced; 2) determine the sustainability and longevity of the filter; 3) determine the ability of the xylem filter to produce sufficient quantities of water to meet daily human needs; and 4) develop a user-friendly guidebook to inform end users on proper construction, use and maintenance of their xylem filter system. Results will determine the ability to scale up the filter system and develop a set of "safe guidelines" and workshops for its use or if further testing and refining of the experimental design is warranted during Phase II. We plan to transfer the technology, including a demonstration of the xylem filter, within our College, Community, and at a national conference.
 

Expected Results:

Our research will advance the scientific and technical knowledge about water filtration and increase community resilience to acute disasters that threaten drinking water availability. The xylem filter is not intended to solve the worldwide water crisis. Yet, the low-cost, easily installed, and sustainable system can provide a temporary, small-output solution to acute water problems. Simply put, the xylem filter can allow access to clean water, which will aid in maintaining or improving human health and well-being. Low cost and simplistic design will allow it to be widely distributed to a variety of communities.
 

Supplemental Keywords:

drinking water treatment technology, water filtration, xylem, sustainable design, environmental education