The SafaPani Project is designing a cost-efficient, user-friendly water filter for the removal of arsenic – a toxic chemical with severe health consequences affecting 140 million people worldwide. We ultimately seek to establish a sustainable manufacturing and distribution network for our product by partnering with villages and aid organizations in Nepal. Our team works in collaboration with VillageTech Solutions, a nonprofit organization that develops technology solutions for developing countries.
In December 2013, three SafaPani members traveled to Nepal to gain hands-on understanding of arsenic contamination and potential routes for product implementation. The water tests they conducted in the villages of Nawalparasi revealed tubewell arsenic concentrations of up to 250 ppb – 25 times the safety standard set by the World Health Organization. The team also connected with several key organizations, including Nepal Water for Health (NEWAH), Environment and Public Health Organization (ENPHO), and Filters for Families. Meetings with these water and health experts helped to identify the most critical challenges faced by other filtration products in Nepal, as well as plan strategies to build upon the current aid landscape.
During the fall 2013 and winter 2014 terms, SafaPani teamed up with four graduate students in Thayer’s 89/90 class to finalize the basic prototype design. The 89/90 team built the first filtration model, consisting of a nested 2-bucket design that houses iron electrodes, batteries, a diffusion plate, and a layer of sand. The prototype reliably reduces 260 ppb of arsenic down to 2.58 ppb for up to 90 liters of water.
SafaPani is currently focused on making the filter more efficient and user-friendly by enhancing the design of 7 filter components: the controller, flush mechanism, filter vessel, storage vessel, sand sieve, offtake pipe, and electrode assembly. We are also leveraging the connections made during our Nepal trip to begin mapping out a plan for manufacturing and distribution.