TERRE HAUTE —
In Kenya, purified water is not always readily available.
But sunshine is.
A group of Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology students has created a device that fills that void by harvesting solar energy to pasteurize and filter drinking water.
“Purified water is a big problem, as two thirds of Kenya lies in an arid or semi-arid area,” said Francis Kimani Mbugua, a sophomore geography exchange student from Egerton University in Kenya, who provided Rose students insight into the cultural and geographic aspects of Kenya. “Most water comes from rivers or lakes. Children often drink directly from the lake or river with no purification.”
As part of the water purification process, Rose students built a three-legged wooden frame to hold two plastic buckets. One bucket is filled with pea gravel, coarse sand and fine sand.
That bucket is then filled with water, such as from a river or lake. The filtered water drains from holes at the bottom of the bucket.
The water then goes into a second bucket, where it is drained into a garden hose that connects to a 10-foot long galvanized steel pipe.
Around the pipe is an 8.5-foot-long, 47-inch wide solar collector. The solar energy heats the water up to 158 degrees (70 Celsius) to kill off bacteria, said Phillip Markison, student project manager and a sophomore from Marengo, Ill., who is majoring in mechanical engineering.
The water purification device was designed for a family of five, from materials easily obtained in Kenya. The device can purify 15 liters of water per day, “and we could probably get close to double or triple that,” Markison said.
The device meets Environmental Protection Agency requirements for PH (a measure of acidity or basicity of water), lead, bacteria and water hardness, Markison said.
The sand filter in the bucket develops a bio layer that further helps filter out bacteria; however, that bio layer often takes 30 days to create. The solar collector allows for more pure water immediately, said Ashley Bernal, assistant professor of mechanical engineering.
Bernal was among a group of Rose-Hulman faculty members who visited Kenya last year.
“With this system, it could reduce the amount of water-borne diseases,” Mbugua said after the student’s presentation. “The application is quite simple for people to understand,” he said, adding the cost is about $130 for materials. That cost could be lower simply by using sticks to construct a frame for the plastic buckets.
The device can also be built with simple hand tools, such a hand saw, hammer and hand drill, said Gunnar Horve, a sophomore from Clinton, Ill., who is majoring in mechanical engineering.
The water purification device is part of a new team-taught, 12-credit, design-build-communicate course focused on the National Academy of Engineering’s Grand Challenges. This challenge was to put solar energy to work economically. The students began work on the device on July 8.
Julian Sfeir, a junior from New Jersey majoring in mechanical engineering, said the students will next formulate an implementation plan and contact students at Egerton University (an agricultural university in Kenya), who can bring the device to their individual tribes.
Sfeir said students hope to collect data to determine longevity and determine repair costs for the device. The implementation plan includes contacting at least two organizations, such as WaterAid, an international nonprofit organization that seeks to provide safe domestic water in Africa, Asia and Central America.
“If we find that our product ends up being successful, we will be able to work with them, in the long term, to distribute it to other places in the world,” Sfeir said.
Reporter Howard Greninger can be reached at 812-231-4204 or email@example.com.
TERRE HAUTE —
In Kenya, purified water is not always readily available.
College students spend alternative spring break helping in Vigo County
Pruning in the orchard and preparing plants for the garden has been part of the experience for a group of Minnesota students who are spending this week as an alternative spring break at Saint Mary-of-the-Woods College.
MARK BENNETT: How you approach the day will influence if you are a ‘morning person’
I can still see the stacks of coins, 40 cents in each, arranged on the dining room table.
Area Plan Department considering raising fees
The Vigo County Area Planning Department is exploring the possibility of raising the fees for its services.
Tuesday night crash leads to arrest on drug charges
A Terre Haute man was arrested on drug-related charges after a one-car accident Tuesday night in Clay County.
Clock ticking on downtown TIF district
The sun is setting on Terre Haute’s downtown tax increment finance district, which city economic development officials say has been crucial to downtown revitalization, following action this week from the Indiana General Assembly.
Lay pastor files guilty plea in child sex case
A Terre Haute man has pleaded guilty to seven felonies in connection with a child molestation that allegedly involved the man’s wife as well.
Man gets 1 year probation for child, animal neglect
A Vigo County man has been sentenced to one year on formal probation after pleading guilty to housing children and animals in a filthy house.
Three-vehicle crash on U.S. 41 injures three
Three people received minor injuries and one motorist was cited following a three-vehicle crash on U.S. 41 at Springhill Drive at 9:59 a.m. Wednesday.
Sullivan daycare fire victim ID’d
Sullivan County authorities have released the name of a 1 1⁄2-year-old girl who died Tuesday morning in a Sullivan County daycare fire.
Sullivan Daycare fire: Broken hearts
A 11⁄2-year-old girl tragically died early Tuesday morning as the result of a fire at Waterman’s Wonderland Daycare on Sullivan’s south side.
Sony DADC cutting 34 distribution jobs here
Sony DADC is halting product distribution operations from its Terre Haute plant at a cost of 34 jobs, a company official said Tuesday.
Bill ends automatic license suspensions for many crimes
Unpaid parking fines, falling behind on child support, drunken driving: So many offenses trigger a suspended driver’s license in Indiana that more than a half-million Hoosiers have lost their driving privileges. In fact, driving on a suspended license is the most common charged offense, prosecutors say.
Indiana same-sex marriage tax benefits nixed by Senate
Gay rights advocates said they’re deeply concerned about a split in state policy from a new federal approach to taxes recognizing same-sex marriage that the Indiana Senate approved 41-6 on Tuesday.
‘Slow’ start to Illinois early voting
Early voting is “slow” in Clark and Edgar counties in Illinois, election officials said Tuesday, even with the first-time permitting of 17-year-olds to register and vote in the March 18 primary election.
Brazil girl badly burned in Monday fire
A 6-year-old girl suffered second- and third-degree burns to her lower extremities in a Monday morning fire at 313 S. Vine St. in Brazil.
Helping out Hoosiers: 181st Intelligence Wing launches first aerial domestic support mission
The roar of the jets is long gone but Airmen from the 181st Intelligence Wing Indiana Air National Guard still stand watch for the Hoosiers of Indiana.
Indiana Attorney General launches statewide food drive
Indiana Attorney General Greg Zoeller launched the statewide March Against Hunger food drive competition Tuesday in Terre Haute.
Shots fired in home invasion, robbery
Shots were fired early Tuesday morning in what police are calling a home invasion and armed robbery in Terre Haute.
Seminar covers college readiness for students with disabilities
Registrations are still being accepted for an upcoming seminar on college readiness and transition for students with disabilities and learning difficulties.
- Road closing: March 5, 2014
Ablond bundle of energy on four legs showed off his energy Monday afternoon at the Vigo County Annex.
Vigo Schools to have long days in April
The Vigo County School Corp. has announced its plan for snow makeup days.
Senate considers bill to end TIF
An Indiana Senate bill that would sunset the city’s first tax increment finance district concerns Cliff Lambert, director of the Terre Haute Department of Redevelopment.
Benefit set for man in need of heart transplant
A benefit will take place Sunday to assist a West Terre Haute man in need of a heart transplant.
PHOTO UPDATE: Rollover on Carlisle Street ends in driver being cited, but no injury
A rollover crash Monday afternoon closed Carlisle Street in southern Vigo County for about an hour.
Kianna Sweatt, a sophomore at Terre Haute South Vigo with an impressive bowling average of about 180, didn’t disguise the look of disappointment on her face as she left one pin standing in the first half of an early frame Sunday afternoon.
Winter blasts hit Indiana again; wind chills well below zero
A chilly, wintery mix of snow, sleet and freezing rain dropped on the Wabash Valley on Sunday leading to more school delays and potential cancellations in the area.
Lawmakers race toward last 2 weeks
Indiana lawmakers advanced a wide range of measures late last week as they headed into the final two weeks of their 2014 session, setting up last-minute negotiations on everything from road funding to education.
Strapped for cash
Cash hungry schools may start selling ads on the sides of buses to make up millions of dollars lost because of property tax caps.
Mixed statehouse, mixed responses
Indiana’s 150 state lawmakers are racing down the home stretch of the 2014 legislative session after months of sometimes acrimonious debate.
- More News Headlines
- College students spend alternative spring break helping in Vigo County