Clean water solutions for disaster zones
Original article from UNSW https://www.engineering.unsw.edu.au/news/clean-water-solutions-for-disaster-zones
In January 2016, UNSW Chemical Engineer Associate Professor Pierre Le-Clech embarked on a 10-day mission to earthquake-devastated Nepal to undertake a research project in collaboration with Skyjuice Foundation.
The Gorkha earthquake that struck Nepal in April 2015 measured a massive 7.6 on the Richter Scale and tragically killed over 8,000 people. Having already collaborated with Skyjuice for a number of years, Le-Clech knew there were Skyjuice water filtration units on the ground in the affected area; so, drawing on funds from UNSW’s Natural Disaster Recovery Initiative, he initiated a project to assess their resilience.
“Generally speaking, once units have been installed, it’s difficult to monitor their performance. This project was an opportunity to not only find out how they had fared in the earthquake, but work out how best to ensure a more reliable, robust system lasting for longer,” says Le-Clech.
Skyjuice is a non-for-profit organisation which specialises in supplying low-cost clean water solutions to developing countries and disaster zones. Its units are designed to be easy to use. The recommended maintenance schedule is to shake the unit daily (to clear any accumulated dirt from the membrane), and clean it with commercial bleach every once in a while.
“They use an ultrafiltration membrane that works using gravity, so the feed tank just needs to be slightly higher than the membrane for the dirty water to be pushed through the fibres and clean water to be filtered as a result,” explains Le-Clech.