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Solar UV Disinfection for Water Production in Developing Countries

The Challenge: Potable Water Without Boiling

For many people in the Dominican Republic, and around the world, water is not treated or is treated by boiling. Boiling of water has a number of negative implications, including variability of process control, contribution to greenhouse gas emission, degradation of local (often indoor) air quality, and deforestation. As such, the inclusion of processes that have the potential to contribute to production of safe water with little or no impact in these other areas represents a potentially important improvement.

The Purdue Innovation: Solar UV Disinfection for Water Production in Developing Countries

The project develops and implements a continuous-flow solar UV disinfection systems for potable water production in the community of Las Cañas, Dominican Republic. The plan for this project is to build on progress to date to develop community-scale, continuous-flow, solar UV disinfection systems for production of potable water. Ongoing research among the PIs and a graduate student (Ms. Margaret M. Busse) has allowed for demonstration of the efficacy of solar UVB radiation against bacteria and protozoa. In particular, results of recently completed experiments have demonstrated that ambient solar UVB radiation is effective for inactivation of Salmonella typhi LT2 and Vibrio harveyi; these two species of bacteria are non-pathogenic, but are closely related to the bacteria that cause typhoid fever and cholera, respectively. More recent results have indicated the efficacy of solar UVB radiation against the oocysts of Cryptosporidium parvum, a common protozoan parasite. Collectively, these responses indicate that solar UVB radiation is effective for inactivation of the microbial pathogens that are responsible for the majority of waterborne, communicable disease outbreaks in developing countries.

The results of work to date indicate that the system could represent an important component of a system to produce safe water. Ideal implementation of this system will involve application following a particle separation process, such as a simple filter. This approach to treatment will conform to the multiple-barrier concept, which represents the contemporary standard for water treatment in any setting. An example of such a technology would be the filtration system that has been developed and implemented by the Jafvert group in Civil Engineering at Purdue University. The proposed project will involve field experiments on the Purdue campus and in the Dominican Republic. Experiments at Purdue University will involve testing of CPC prototype systems to develop a simple, inexpensive system to control flow rate through the system.

Compound Parabolic Collector           Fresnel Lens         Collection System

The Partners:

Purdue University, Community of Las Canas, Dominican Republic

  • Ernest R. Blatchley III, Ph.D., P.E., BCEE, F. ASCE, Professor, Lyles School of Civil Engineering and Division of Environmental & Ecological Engineering, Purdue University,
  • Bruce M. Applegate, Ph.D., Associate Professor, Department of Food Science and Department of Biological Sciences, Purdue University,
  • Joseph W. Camp, Jr., Ph.D., Professor, Department of Comparative Pathobiology, Purdue University,
  • Antonio Peña Reyes, El Patronato Presidente, POTABLE WATER SYSTEM IN LAS CANAS, LA VEGA, D.R.