Pedal-powered nanofiltration kits sent to Haiti

Researchers from the Department of Environmental Science & Engineering at South Korea’s Gwangju Institute of Science & Technology (GIST) sent several human-powered nanofiltration (NF) water- treatment systems to the earthquake victims of Haiti in January.

One unit is capable of producing about 13 L/min of safe potable water from untreated water passed through a cartridge pre-filter and then a commercial-sized NF membrane module (2.5 in diameter; 40 in long). Electricity is not required because the pressure needed to pump water is generated by pedaling the device like a bicycle or using a handpump.

This makes them ideal for disaster-stricken and third world countries where electricity is usually inaccessible and water scarcity is a serious threat. Furthermore, the small scale of the devices makes them easy to transport and install. More units were planned for delivery to Haiti within February.

These water treatment systems are already being used in regions where it is difficult to obtain clean water for human consumption. Some of these places include Angkor Wat in Cambodia and the villages of Korr in Nigeria and Agangril in Sudan. GIST will continue to provide these devices to improve water quality and prevent water-borne diseases in a cooperative effort with missionaries, NGOs, other academic institutions and system/component manufacturers.

The spiral-wound NF elements used in the systems have been donated to GIST by Woongjin Chemical Co Ltd, manufacturer of CSM reverse-osmosis (RO) and NF membranes. Alternative designs, where more than one NF or RO element and larger sizes are used, have also been developed.