Having clean water is a luxury. However, there are many places in third world countries that don’t have clean drinking water at the hands of their faucet, such as in Central Vietnam lowlands. With seasonal monsoon rains, many residents there struggle to have access to good clean water source throughout the year. Our mission was clear. We were to work for an NGO that designs and makes water cleaning systems for small, rural communities.
Our requirement and criteria as a team, was to :
- Completely remove all contaminants including salt, copper, and sediments
- Produce water with an acidity range between 6-8 pH
- Generate at least 15 mL of water for testing
- Can provide solar panel systems with limited electricity to villagers.
- Use materials that are accessible in the rural village or with a sensible budget in mind
Our team brainstormed on several ways to filter water. We discussed on using a bottle, boiling, charcoal, sand, and rock filter method, and pyramid. We decided on carrying out the charcoal, sand, and rock filter method as our first attempt. For our first prototype design, we turned the bottle upside down, with a thin white cloth screwed into the inside of the bottle cap. The cap was the crewed on air tight to the bottle. Then, a hole was melted in the middle of the bottle cap. Then a half semi-circular ¼” length straw attached into the melted hole outside of the cap. Inside of the bottles we filled it with layers of rocks and sand. The order of the layers looking from the top of the inverted bottle: large rocks, smaller rocks, sand, and charcoal.
There were many challenges with this design. The only thing that worked was that it removed all copper solid particles but the ppm was still high. The water was very smoggy, filtration was slow. Meant that there were tiny contaminants not visible to the eyes not filtered. Arsenic compounds for sure were still in the water. Water was still smoggy, visually not drinkable. Overall our water filter did not meet the requirements of our design challenge.There were too many aspects that we needed to redesign in our prototype. One being that the water quality was way more contaminated than what our designed filtration system could take. If the water source we were filtering were fresh river water up in the high mountains, it might have worked. Our design was a fail so we started over from the beginning and back to our brainstorming stage again.
We completely changed our design by using the evaporation method. First, we heated a pot, semi filled with water and once it reached boiling point, the water in the pot evaporated and formed water dew on the inside of the pot lid. We then scraped off the water dew from the inside of the pot lid and transfer them into a small beaker.
Salt and turbidity were filtered out. However, Copper was 500 ppm which was about 500 mcg. The average healthy adult could have an intake of 900 mcg/day. This water was only 15 ml with 500 ppm, and an average healthy person was to drink 8 cups of water per day, so our filtration would give villagers Wilson’s disease, too much copper. Acidity was high, it was higher than acid rain. Overall our design worked poorly. We needed to add more layers of filtration to filter out copper, as well as, bring down the acid level to drinkable PH level.
In conclusion, our water filter did not meet the requirements of our design challenge. Our major criteria were to produce safe drinkable water and none of us were willing to drink that water we filtered.
After this project and typing up this report and gathering information, made me realize that having drinkable clean water was a luxury. And that we should be more responsible in polluting less of our world because no filter could filter out everything and recreate nature.