Nano-Silver and Zeolite for Ceramic Water Filters

EPA Grant Number: SU836762
Title: Nano-Silver and Zeolite for Ceramic Water Filters
Investigators: Saleh, Navid
Institution: The University of Texas at Austin
EPA Project Officer: Sergeant, Anne
Phase: I
Project Period: November 1, 2016 through October 31, 2017
Project Amount: $14,998
RFA: P3 Awards: A National Student Design Competition for Sustainability Focusing on People, Prosperity and the Planet (2016) RFA Text |  Recipients Lists
Research Category: Sustainability , P3 Awards , P3 Challenge Area - Water

Description:

Design an innovative ceramic water filter (CWF) enabled with silver nanoparticles and zeolites for a low-income community in Oaxaca, Mexico, develop community relationships and compare the CWF's performance with traditional ceramic pot filters.

Objective:

Access to water is intrinsically correlated to socioeconomic standing. An estimated 8.9 million people in Mexico lack access to improved drinking water. In rural areas around Oaxaca, more than 40% of the population lacks access to an improved water supply, leading these communities to seek water from alternative sources, such as shallow groundwater and weather-dependent rainwater harvesting. Relying on these untreated sources introduces further uncertainty in water quality, e.g., high mineral content, turbidity, and microbial contamination. Novel ceramic water filters, enabled with silver nanoparticles and zeolites (CWFAgZs), are promising point-of-use (POU) solutions that can be sustained locally and accepted by indigenous culture. Ceramic filters are recognized worldwide for improving water quality in low-income communities with the use of inexpensive materials (e.g., zeolites). One of the key limitations of these POU is disinfection of water with high mineral content. Elevated level of hardness in water has been known to cause fluctuation to ionic silver release and thereby can affect disinfection efficacy. Locally available zeolites can be introduced in the filter matrix to soften the water and allow a continuous but sustained release of ionic silver for efficient disinfection. The proposed project will take an innovative approach of developing and testing silver nanoparticle (AgNP)-enabled CWF, enhanced with locally available zeolites. The treatment system will be developed for a target community at Oaxaca, Mexico in partnership with multiple local institutions. This project attempts to design and deploy a novel water treatment technology, integrating the local needs and material supply into the design with strong partnership development and outreach efforts.

Approach:

This project aims to address the need for water disinfection by designing an innovative CWF, enabled with AgNPs and zeolites for a low-income community in the region of Oaxaca, Mexico. To achieve this goal, the project will be divided into two phases. Phase I will focus on research and development, and phase II will pursue social integration. The objectives during Phase I include: (i) surveying and securing strong ties with the selected communities, strengthening local organizations, collecting water samples for water quality characterization, and learning people’s relationship with water in rural regions around Oaxaca, (ii) production of ceramic discs using locally-available raw materials and zeolites, for characterization and testing, and (iii) designing and producing an innovative CWF holder to integrate the discs prepared, and comparing their performance (i.e., treatment capacity and estimated effective lifetime) with traditional ceramic pot filters. The objectives during phase II are to deliver the technology to the rural regions in need, educate the user on its safe use, and monitor its use and cultural acceptance. This project embodies the principles of sustainability by empowering low income communities to be self-reliant on their water needs by managing their water resources and thus increasing overall quality of their lives with enhanced access to safe drinking water. Through the partnerships established, this project will promote and build strong ties between communities and local academic leaders as well as will educate students of several institutions in Oaxaca. The technical research will be performed at the University of Texas at Austin (UT) with the support of three Oaxacan universities and one local nonprofit organization. UT will conduct a week-long workshop to transfer knowledge on CWFAgZs to undergraduate students in Oaxaca.

Expected Results:

Phase I results will include (i) design and preparation of CWFAgZs prototypes with controlled and sustained release of ionic silver for water disinfection (performed at UT), (ii) design of a disc holder that can be easily be adopted to existing water vessels and water bottles used in the communities at Oaxaca, and (iii) local contextualization for implementation of this technology in Oaxaca in collaboration with UT and the Mexican counterparts. These deliverables will have long-term effects on local communities, economies, and the environment socially adoptable technology development and educational workshops, which eventually is envisioned to enhance the quality of life of the rural Oaxacan communities. The research team will strive to understand unique facets of Oaxacan culture and customs and will conduct surveys throughout the project to establish baseline statistics in better assessing the impact of the technology diffusion and implementation.

Supplemental Keywords:

ceramic water filters, nanotechnology, silver nanoparticles, zeolites, water purification, water filtration, drinking water, water treatment, water disinfection, pathogen removal, environmental education;