Submitted by: BioLite Stove
Implemented country: India
Title: True Pioneering: Arsenic-free Water for Millions of People without the Use of Chemicals
Arsenic-contaminated water is a problem all over the world. Causes are natural arsenic deposits in sediments, industrial pollution, agriculture, and mining. Worldwide, about 137 million people in 70 different countries are exposed to drinking water and food contaminated with arsenic, which can lead to malignant skin, lung, and liver tumors, as well as to anemia and severe metabolic disorders. But now there is hope: A team of European and Indian engineers under the direction of Dr. Bhaskar Sen Gupta from Queen’s University Belfast are true pioneers. By designing the “In-Situ” or SAR method they found a way of dissolving arsenic without the use of any chemicals. The project is supported by the EU Commission, the World Bank, the British Council, and Conoco Phillips Ltd.
A chemical engineer by training, Dr. Bhaskar Sen Gupta spent quite a while in Calcutta, India, where the arsenic problem kept getting worse in the 1970s. An arsenic related death in his own family was reason for Bhaskar to begin researching the problem. He looked for a simple yet affordable solution to help prevent mass arsenic poisonings. Conventional methods according to the principle of “pump and treat” bind contaminants or filter them via a membrane, which is cost-intensive and leaves toxic mud. The In-Situ method, however, works by oxygen enrichment through which the arsenic content in the water is reduced to nearly zero. This method is also ideal for treatment of shallow waterways. Especially in south and south-east Asia most drinking water and irrigation problems are solved in this manner. The filtration system can be assembled by locals. The only parts needed are what you would normally use for building a well, and these items can be obtained locally. The system can be operated by anyone. All you have to do is push a button which sets the pump in motion.
Seven showcase systems have been installed in India, as well as one in Malaysia, Cambodia, and in the United States. Training programs for NGOs, environment specialists, farmers‘ co-ops, government and bank representatives, etc. teach how the system works. Additional facilities will be installed in Bangladesh, Vietnam, Nepal, and Mexico. The advantages of the SAR method are simple installation and operation. The costs for such a system with an output of 6,000 liters of water are at approximately 2,000 U.S. dollars. Operating costs per month are 20 dollars for electricity and operation. Costs for treatment of 10 cubic meters of water are at 1 dollar. A family will typically spend 2 dollars on clean water per month. The estimated lifecycle of these systems is 20 years without maintenance worth mentioning. Dr. Bhaska Sen Gupta is currently busy with fundraising efforts for the construction of additional systems. He has set a high goal for himself: He would like his technology to be used in at least 30 other countries. Doing yard work with his two children or going hiking with his family are his own sources for all the energy he needs.
“We need to create a future generation who would care for the environment through education and training.”