Focus: Water Resources
Location: Berkeley, California
Arsenic contaminated drinking water affects about 56 million people across 25 states in the United States and countless people globally. This puts small and rural communities that may not be able to afford water purification methods at a disadvantage compared to wealthier regions or communities. Arsenic is highly toxic and incurable; it takes only a teaspoon to kill 40 adults. Over time, ingestion of small amounts of arsenic leads to painful symptoms and can lead to cancers, lung damage, heart disease, renal failure and even lowered IQ in children. In the past, there have been no efficient or cost effective ways to remove arsenic from water. Methods have included blending waters to lower the arsenic levels, delivering bottled water to communities, or placing pipelines from clean water areas. However, these fall short, because they are expensive and unsustainable.
SimpleWater, a California company, has engineered a technology that successfully removes arsenic from drinking water at a low cost. The project is called Arsenic Volt and it utilizes electrochemical arsenic removal, also known as ECAR. The system is made of inexpensive iron plates, through which the water is pumped, as low electric currents are moved between the plates, which then separate out the arsenic. By using the Arsenic Volt, arsenic levels are reduced well below standards recommended by the United States Environmental Protection Agency (E.P.A.) and the World Health Organization. This technology is affordable, simple to use, and can be incorporated into already existing water systems or installed new.
In 2014, the Environmental Protection Agency provided funding for the project to further the research and to develop the technology further. The results show excellent and consistent removal of arsenic from drinking water. Arsenic Volts are currently being tested in Bangladesh, Cambodia, and India with successful reports. The technology could potentially be applied to remove other toxins with further research and modifications. SimpleWater is currently waiting for an NSF 61 certification and approval from the U.S. Department of Health. NSF 61 certification is required to prove that water treatment products meet health effects criteria required by most U.S. governmental agencies. Commercialization in sectors such as oil, mining and gas industries do not require certification and could also benefit from the installation of this product. The Arsenic Volt is exciting new technology that has the potential to change water purification methods and provide clean drinking water to millions of people worldwide.
Environmental Impact: Avoided water contamination
Measurement: Environmental Protection Agency
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