For most people in developed nations, finding access to potable water becomes an afterthought with the simple turn of a faucet.
But in developing nations, for the most part, there is a lack of proper water infrastructure. People living in especially poor or rural areas must rely on the local groundwater, which is often contaminated by uncontrolled sewage and waste. With many existing filter systems being too expensive and difficult to implement, PureMadi, a non-profit organization headed up by researchers from the University of Virginia, may have an alternative solution.
Dubbed the MadiDrop, PureMadi’s newest creation is an inexpensive, natural water purification system that can be implemented on a wide basis and rid drinking water of 99.9% of contaminants.
The MadiDrop is a small, ceramic disk made of clay, sawdust, and water. The mixed compound is molded and fired in a kiln, which causes the sawdust to combust and leave a water-porous material. The tablet is then coated in silver and/or copper nanoparticles, which effectively treat the water and kill-off harmful microbes. The metal nanoparticles are capable of riding water of bacteria that cause illnesses like cholera and E. coli.
The new disk is a more convenient version of PureMadi’s MadiFilter. The MadiFilter is made of the same materials as the MadiDrop, but is much larger and shaped like a flowerpot. In the case of the MadiFilter, water is poured in the top and collected after it is sanitized and filtered out the bottom. The MadiDrop, while lacking the filtration capabilities of the MadiFilter, provides greater convenience (simply drop in a bucket of untreated water), is much cheaper (anticipated to cost roughly $5), is easily distributed to a wider population, and works effectively for nearly 6 months.
The simplicity of the manufacturing process and materials also ensures that the MadiDrops can be created in the developing countries themselves, providing jobs and commerce. The project, which is currently being developed in the South African province of Limpopo, hopes to create factories that can produce 500-1,000 filters per month.
For people already suffering from compromised immune systems, such as those with AIDS, access to clean water can greatly improve quality of life and human health.