Frugal Off-Grid Photocatalytic Water Purification Solutions and Low-Power Dispensing Kiosks for Sub-Saharan Africa - Samer Kurdi, Majicom

This talk was presented at the virtual Arm Research Summit, September 9-11, 2020. This year's event explored global technology challenges across sustainability, security, and society, and attracted delegates from around the world for three days of innovative content.

More than two billion people lack access to clean, safe drinking water, specifically in developing countries due to lack of infrastructure. Where infrastructure does exist, poor maintenance leads to broken water supply and sewage draining pipes contaminate water coming out of taps. The problem is exacerbated by rapid urbanization, rain seasons, poor pollution regulation and lack of education. The problem is most acute in Africa where (1) tap water is contaminated, (2) many people in low/middle communities do not treat their drinking water and if they do, boiling is the preferred choice. (3) Low income communities have poor WASH habits and lack of understanding of the waterborne diseases they are contracting. To address these issues Samer has developed his own frugal off-grid solar water purifier comprising of photoactive sand in a serpentine channel. When water flows through the device (e.g. from taps, boreholes, rivers), sunlight activates the photoactive material that removes pathogens/organic pollutants. The main advantage of our system is that it does not depend on existing infrastructure and works for over a year without electricity allowing the delivery of low-cost drinking water to a large network. Samer hopes to distribute our technology through low-power dispensing kiosks using a franchise model that will enable financial empowerment, create job, and facilitate ongoing maintenance. His team has already established partnerships and obtained interest from schools, communities, universities, water vending businesses, and hospitals, and plan to launch a pilot to test the water purifiers for long-term sustainable implementation with incorporation of educational/capacity building component.

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