Point-of-Use Polyurethane Foam Filter

EPA Grant Number: SU836023
Title: Point-of-Use Polyurethane Foam Filter
Investigators: Weber-Shirk, Monroe , Lion, Leonard William , Philipson, Rachel
Current Investigators: Weber-Shirk, Monroe , Irish, Bradshaw , Edwards, Katie , McBride, Kelly , Shebaro, Nadia , Grimshaw, Walker
Institution: Cornell University
EPA Project Officer: Hahn, Intaek
Phase: I
Project Period: August 15, 2011 through August 14, 2012
Project Amount: $15,000
RFA: P3 Awards: A National Student Design Competition for Sustainability Focusing on People, Prosperity and the Planet (2011) RFA Text |  Recipients Lists
Research Category: Pollution Prevention/Sustainable Development , P3 Challenge Area - Safe and Sustainable Water Resources , P3 Awards , Sustainable and Healthy Communities


The Point-of-Use Polyurethane Foam Filter team is one of eight student teams that comprise the AguaClara program at Cornell University. The teams work together on the larger AguaClara mission of providing safe drinking water technologies and they collaborate with partners in Central America that are building AguaClara drinking water treatment plants. The Foam Filtration team is the first AguaClara team to focus on point of use water treatment rather than municipal scale water treatment.


Many people who do not have access to municipally treated water use point of use treatment systems. Our goal is to design a robust, reliable, point of use filter that can safely treat high turbidity surface waters to provide safe drinking water for households and small communities that lack access to municipally treated water.


The filtration unit will have a direct impact on the people utilizing it. They will gain access to clean, treated water. The filter will be inexpensive and easy to use and maintain. In addition, the filter will be fabricated locally using generic materials available that are commonly available. The filter will be significantly smaller than biosand or ceramic filters and will be able to handle higher particulate loadings. The foam filter will be easily cleaned and reusable. It will also be less prone to breakage than the ceramic filters. The very high porosity of foam will make it possible for foam to handle high turbidity waters without clogging as quickly as other filtration systems.

Expected Results:

With successful implementation of point of use foam filtration units, we expect to decrease the number of people exposed to water borne diseases. Turbidity and pathogen removal will be tested and monitored in both lab and field settings.

Contribution to Pollution Prevention or Control: The point of use filter has a minimal carbon footprint, no electricity is required to operate or clean the filter. Application of foam filtration will sustainably treat surface waters to remove pathogens and sediment.

Supplemental Keywords:

drinking water, filtration

Progress and Final Reports:

  • Final Report