News / Africa

Students Invent Water Purification Disc

Students Invent Water Purification Disci
X
June 12, 2013 1:31 AM
Students at the University of Virginia have developed a new way of purifying water that they say could bring improved water quality for millions in the developing world. It's called a Madi Drop. As VOA's Carolyn Presutti reports, field testing begins this month in South Africa.
Students at the University of Virginia have developed a new way of purifying water that they say could bring improved water quality for millions in the developing world.  It's called a Madi Drop. Field testing begins this month in South Africa.

The lab operates like a kitchen. They add several ingredients. Then they mix, weigh, press and bake them.

What's created is called a MadiDrop - a ceramic disc infused with silver.

When dropped in water, silver ions, which are atoms that have an electrical charge,, are released to purify the water.  And, testing here at the University of Virginia shows clean, safe water.

“It's not just about making a really great technology that effectively removes or kills bacteria and pathogens.  It's about making a low cost, simple to use one, tailored to people in developing countries who don't have many resources,” said Beeta Ehdaie, a doctoral candidate at UVA.

The students are experimenting with different sizes of MadiDrops to correspond with different sized water containers.  Why the name “MadiDrop”?  

The word “madi” means water in Tshivenda, a language of Limpopo Province in South Africa. Fifty women run a water filter factory, set up by the university in the province last summer.  

The women mix sawdust and clay and make flower pot shaped filters that they use to purify drinking water.

The water flows through the filters to trap bacteria and solid particles. The factory sells the filters to local families. Manager Certinah Khashane says the work has changed the women's lives.

“When they get money for those pots, they buy school uniforms for their children,” Khashane said.

But the MadiDrop is smaller and less expensive than the filters.  So, over the next few months, students will conduct field trials of the MadiDrop here in South Africa.
 
Water experts say further testing will determine if the MadiDrop is indeed a breakthrough. Maggie Montgomery, who is with the World Health Organization, explained what field testing should reveal.

“Do they find it convenient, does it have a certain taste they don't like to the water, what happens once it becomes exhausted?,” she said.

If successful, the South African women will produce and sell MadiDrops. The goal is to expand the existing factories to other developing countries and impact millions of lives per year.

“Imagine a magic stone and you take this magic stone and you drop it in your water container.  It purifies the water and makes it safe to drink.  And then imagine that this magic stone only costs a few dollars. That's what a MadiDrop is,"  said Jim Smith, the engineering professor leading the project.

The project has been presented to the American Chemical Society and the American Society of Civil Engineers.  Smith says he's received calls from corporations interested in producing the MadiDrop....which might mean Smith and his students have truly invented a magic stone.

Carolyn Presutti

Carolyn Presutti is an Emmy and Silver World Medal award winning television correspondent who works out of VOA’s Washington headquarters.   She has also won numerous Associated Press awards and a Clarion for her coverage of The Syrian Medical Crisis, Haiti, The Boston Marathon Bombing, Presidential Politics, The Southern Economy, and The 9/11 Bombing Anniversary.  In 2013, Carolyn aired exclusive stories on the Asiana plane crash and was named VOA’s chief reporter with Google Glass.

You can follow Carolyn on Twitter at CarolynVOA, on Google Plus and Facebook.

You May Like

Sydney Hostage-taker Failed to Manipulate Social Media

Gunman forced captives to use personal Facebook, YouTube accounts to issue his demands; online community helped flag messages, urged others not to share them More

UN Seeks $8.4 Billion to Help War-Hit Syrians

Effort aimed at helping Syrians displaced within their own country and those who've fled to neighboring ones More

Who Are the Pakistani Taliban?

It's an umbrella group of militant organizations whose objective is enforcement of Sharia in Pakistan 'whether through peace or war' More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Will Pakistan School Shooting Galvanize Pakistan Against Extremism?i
X
Ayesha Tanzeem
December 17, 2014 11:54 AM
The attack on a military school in Pakistan’s northwest city of Peshawar left 141 dead, including 132 children. Strong statements of condemnation poured in from across the world. The country announced three days of mourning, and the leadership, both political and military, promised retribution. VOA's Ayesha Tanzeem looks at how likely the Pakistani government is to clamp down on all extremist groups.
Video

Video Will Pakistan School Shooting Galvanize Pakistan Against Extremism?

The attack on a military school in Pakistan’s northwest city of Peshawar left 141 dead, including 132 children. Strong statements of condemnation poured in from across the world. The country announced three days of mourning, and the leadership, both political and military, promised retribution. VOA's Ayesha Tanzeem looks at how likely the Pakistani government is to clamp down on all extremist groups.
Video

Video ‘Anti-Islamization’ Marches Increase Tensions In Germany

Anti-immigrant rallies in Germany have been building in recent weeks, peaking Monday night in the city of Dresden where tens of thousands of people turned out to demonstrate against what they call the ‘Islamization’ of the West. Germany has offered asylum to more Syrian refugees than any other country, and this appears to have set off the protests. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Aceh Rebuilt Decade After Tsunami, But Scars Remain

On December 26, 2004 there was an earthquake in the Indian Ocean so powerful it caused the Earth’s axis to wobble a few centimeters. Onshore on the island of Sumatra, the resulting tsunami was devastating. A decade later, VOA Correspondent Steve Herman reports from Banda Aceh, Indonesia, where although there is little remaining evidence of the physical devastation, the psychological scars among survivors remain.
Video

Video Refugees Living in Kenya Long for Peace in the Home Countries

Kenya is host to numerous refugees seeking safe haven from conflict. Immigrants from Somalia face challenges in their new lives in Kenya. Ahead of International Migrants Day (December 18) Lenny Ruvaga has more for VOA News from the Kenyan capital.
Video

Video Turkey's Authoritarianism Dismays Western Allies

The Turkish government has been defiant in the face of criticism at home and abroad for its raids targeting opposition media. The European Union on Monday expressed dismay after President Recep Tayyip Erdogan lashed out at Brussels for criticizing his government's action. Turkey's bid to be considered for EU membership has been on hold while critics accuse the NATO ally of increasingly authoritarian rule. Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video US-China Year in Review: Hong Kong to Climate Change

The United States is pushing for a code of conduct to resolve territorial disputes in the South China Sea as it works to improve commercial ties with Beijing. VOA State Department correspondent Scott Stearns reports on a year of U.S. policy toward China from Hong Kong to climate change.
Video

Video Japanese Leader’s Election Win Raises Potential for Conflict with Neighbors

Japan’s Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and his allies easily won a two-thirds majority in parliament Sunday, even though the country has slipped into recession under his conservative policies. VOA’s Brian Padden reports from Seoul, that the prime minister’s victory will empower him to continue economic reforms but also pursue a nationalist agenda that will likely increase tensions with Japan’s neighbors.
Video

Video Nuba Mountain Families Hide in Caves to Escape Aerial Bombings

Despite ongoing peace talks between Sudan's government and the rebel Sudan People’s Liberation Movement-North, or SPLM-N, daily aerial attacks continue in South Kordofan province’s Nuba Mountains. Adam Bailes was there and reports for VOA that government forces are targeting civilian areas, rather than military positions, with their daily bombardments.

All About America

AppleAndroid