Affordable Water Meter at Scale

Region: India

The Challenge

Lack of potable water supply is a leading cause of water-borne diseases and contributes to economic hardship in rural communities. In India, water supply is a stressed commodity primarily due to uneven and inefficient distribution. India has committed to providing piped drinking water supply for all households by 2024. As per Government data, the current coverage is only 18% in rural India. One of the significant challenges during the large-scale expansion will be to ensure metering for all household connections. Metering provides information about water utilization and distribution efficiency.  However, the cost of metering, which is generally borne by the household in urban areas, is prohibitive in rural areas for the current design of water meters available. Thus, there is a need for an affordable and reliable metering solution that can be employed at a large scale, especially in rural areas, at cost.

The Purdue Innovation

The proposed solution is applying existing technology, already well understood, characterized, and used for aerospace testing, to a simpler flow field. The proposed flow meter is an optimized Venturi tube with a significantly better pressure recovery than conventional impeller-based designs, which requires less power, conducive to reduced operational costs, and higher scalability. Two solutions are proposed for measuring water flow rates at affordable prices - one is a powered system, and the other is an unpowered system. The design aims to be cost-efficient to produce and reduce the operational cost of the new piped network. The powered meter design also allows the potential to be integrated into a smart network of sensors for monitoring.

The prototypes will be designed, analyzed, and manufactured at Purdue by Dr. Paniagua's team with support from WaterAid India to ensure that the design meets the Indian standards and all the certifications required at the application site are completed. WaterAid India will identify component manufacturers in the Indian market to help the team carry out a cost-assessment based on the Indian market cost. Once manufactured, the prototypes will be sent to remote test sites identified by WaterAid in India, and their performance and standards compliance will be tested on-site. This demonstration testing will inform further round of design and simplification of the manufacturing plan to ensure it as a feasible design for cheap large-scale production. 

The Partners:

Purdue University:

  • Guillermo Paniagua, Ph.D., School of Mechanical Engineering
  • Lakshya Bhatnagar, Doctoral Candidate
  • Antoni Rebassa Torrens, Graduate Research Assistant, College of Engineering, Mechanical Engineering

WaterAid India 

  • Shivani Sood, Associate Lead Governance
  • Anand Kumar, Head of Programmes
  • Raman VR, Head of Policy