JBU awarded EPA grant to develop clean water

by The City Wire staff ([email protected]) 202 views 

Faculty and students at John Brown University are developing a drinking water disinfection system for rural Guatemala with the help of an Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) grant of $14,520.

The grant, part of the EPA's People, Prosperity and Planet (P3) program will fund the research and development of a scalable, modular and affordable solar-powered system that can purify the water for the 500 people living in the department of Escuintla in southern Guatemala.

Most of the freshwater in Escuintla is unfit for human consumption due to volcanic chemicals, industrial waste, viruses and bacteria fromsurrounding areas.

"The tobacco industry, a leading source of water pollution, is large in this area," said Dr. Ted Song, JBU assistant professor of engineering and project manager. "Clean water is very limited and most people cannot afford bottled water. Escuintla is a coastal area and that, combined with the higher temperatures, make it an ideal place to use solar thermal pasteurization."

The system design is the senior project for engineering majors Ernesto Lopez Chan, Ethiopia Haileyesus, Cassidy Green and Ishant Desai. They will spend the academic year researching and developing their design.

"Working on this project with an EPA grant is such a great opportunity that God has given me," said Haileyesus. "I have the privilege of collaborating with like-minded people as one team to pursue the goal of providing pure water to those who lack this common necessity."

In the spring the team will travel to Washington, D.C. and present their proposal to a panel of experts at the National Sustainable Design Expo on the National Mall along with 41 other teams from U.S. colleges.

Approximately six teams will be chosen to receive phase 2 funding of up to $75,000 to further develop their design and bring it to the marketplace.