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Posted 2/2/2007

POU technology nets national prizes for removing arsenic from drinking water

The National Academy of Engineering (NAE) announced the winners of the 2007 Grainger Challenge Prize for Sustainability, February 1, 2007.

The contest sought innovative solutions for removing arsenic from drinking water that is slowly poisoning millions of people in developing countries. Three prizes will be awarded from a field of more than 70 entries.

Winners will be recognized for the development, in-field verification, and dissemination of effective techniques for reducing arsenic levels in water. The systems must be affordable, reliable, easy to maintain, socially acceptable, and environmentally friendly. All of the winning systems meet or exceed the local government guidelines for arsenic removal and require no electricity.

The prizes will be presented at a gala dinner in Washington, DC, on February 20, 2007.

Abul Hussam, an associate professor in the department of chemistry and biochemistry at George Mason University, Fairfax, Virginia, will receive the Grainger Challenge Gold Award of $1 million for his SONO filter, a household water treatment system.

The Gold Award-winning SONO filter is a point-of-use method for removing arsenic from drinking water. A top bucket is filled with locally available coarse river sand and a composite iron matrix (CIM). The sand filters coarse particles and imparts mechanical stability, while the CIM removes inorganic arsenic. The water then flows into a second bucket where it again filters through coarse river sand, then wood charcoal to remove organics, and finally through fine river sand and wet brick chips to remove fine particles and stabilize water flow. The SONO filter is now manufactured and used in Bangladesh.

Arup K. SenGupta, John E. Greenleaf, Lee M. Blaney, Owen E. Boyd, Arun K. Deb, and the nonprofit organization Water For People will share the Grainger Challenge Silver Award of $200,000 for their community water treatment system. SenGupta is P.C. Rossin Senior Professor and a professor of chemical engineering and of civil and environmental engineering at Lehigh University in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania. Boyd is chief executive officer of SolmeteX Co. in Northborough, Massachusetts. Deb is a retired vice president of Roy F. Weston Inc. (now Weston Solutions Inc.) in West Chester, Pennsylvania. Greenleaf is a Ph.D. candidate in civil and environmental engineering, and Blaney recently earned a bachelor's degree in environmental engineering; they performed laboratory research under SenGupta at Lehigh University.

The system developed by the Silver Award-winning team is applied at a community's well head. Each arsenic removal unit serves about 300 households. Water is hand-pumped into a fixed-bed column, where it passes through activated alumina or hybrid anion exchanger (HAIX) to remove the arsenic. After passing through a chamber of graded gravel to remove particulates, the water is ready to drink. This system has been used in 160 locations in West Bengal, India. The water treatment units, including the activated alumina sorbent, are being manufactured in India, and villagers are responsible for their upkeep and day-to-day operation. The active media are regenerated for re-use, and arsenic-laden sludge is contained in an environmentally safe manner with minimum leaching.

The Children's Safe Drinking Water Program at Procter & Gamble Co. (P&G), Cincinnati, Ohio, will receive the Grainger Challenge Bronze Award of $100,000 for the PUR™ Purifier of Water coagulation and flocculation water treatment system. Greg Allgood, director of the Children's Safe Drinking Water Program, will accept the prize for P&G.

The water technology that won the Bronze Award combines chemicals for disinfection, coagulation, and flocculation in a sachet that can treat small batches of wate

   

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