Navigation Links
Students' water-testing tool wins $40,000, launches nonprofit
Date:12/20/2010

University of Washington engineering students have won an international contest for their design to monitor water disinfection using the sun's rays. The students will share a $40,000 prize from the Rockefeller Foundation and are now working with nonprofits to turn their concept into a reality.

Team member Jacqueline Linnes, who recently completed her bioengineering doctorate, traveled to Bolivia last year with the UW chapter of Engineers Without Borders. While there, she and other students treated their drinking water by leaving it in plastic bottles in the sun.

The concept is an old one. Solar disinfection of water in plastic bottles, also called SODIS, is promoted by many nonprofits. It offers a cheap and easy way to reduce some of the roughly 1.5 million diarrhea-related children's deaths each year. But global adoption has been slow, partly because it is hard to know when the water is safe to drink.

The UW entered a competition to design an indicator for Fundacin SODIS, a Bolivia-based nonprofit dedicated to testing and promoting this method. Solar disinfection in water bottles removes more than 99.9 percent of bacteria and viruses, with results similar to chlorination.

The UW device lets users know when the sun's rays have done their job.

Linnes began working on the problem with Engineers Without Borders members Penny Huang, a senior in chemical engineering, and Chin Jung Cheng, then an undergraduate in chemical engineering and now a UW doctoral student in bioengineering.

At first, the students focused on developing a chemical test strip. Then they considered an electronic sensor and contacted Charlie Matlack, a UW doctoral student in electrical engineering.

Together they built a system using parts from a keychain that blinks in response to light.

"It has all the same components that you'd find inside a dirt-cheap solar calculator, except programmed differently," Matlack said.

Other electronics monitor how much light is passing through the bottle and whether a water-filled bottle is present, so the system knows when to stop or start recording data.

Winning the contest means the students split the $40,000 prize, and their efforts may improve the health of children around the world.

"This is part of what engineering education should be," said faculty adviser Howard Chizeck, an electrical engineering professor. "It's educating students with the skills and the desire to make things better."

The competition was put on by InnoCentive Inc., a Boston-based company that since 2001 has hosted a website where organizations can post technical challenges with prize money and anybody can submit a solution.

In this case, even the challenges themselves were solicited on the web. GlobalGiving Foundation Inc., a Washington, D.C. nonprofit that acts as a clearinghouse for charitable donations, asked nonprofits around the world to submit technical challenges relating to water quality. It then chose four to post to InnoCentive, and the Rockefeller Foundation supplied prize money.

The Sodis Foundation evaluated more than 70 proposals before choosing the UW's.

"The evaluators appreciated the fact that the [UW] device takes into consideration factors like the material of the bottle and the turbidity of the water to be disinfected," said co-director Matthias Saladin. "Other factors favoring the proposal were its robust design, the long product life and its competitive price."

The challenge called for designs costing less than $10. The UW students estimate their parts would retail for $3.40, and bulk buying could reduce the cost further.

The Sodis Foundation now holds a nonexclusive license to develop the technology. It is also focusing on larger-scale systems that could be used in situations such as disaster relief. A Sodis Foundation donor has also offered Matlack $16,000 to continue developing a prototype of the water bottle indicator. (The contest proposal tested each part of the system separately.)

Over the next few months Linnes, Matlack and Tyler Davis, a doctoral student in the UW Evans School of Public Affairs, are setting up a nonprofit business to manufacture and market the device, either to users or to nonprofits that promote solar disinfection.

They have approached UW faculty and local nonprofits as potential partners, hoping to draw on a broad range of expertise.

"We're at a point where we recognize the need for work on this beyond engineering," Matlack said. "Ultimately, the hardest part is going to be to get people to use it."


'/>"/>

Contact: Hannah Hickey
hickeyh@uw.edu
206-543-2580
University of Washington
Source:Eurekalert  

Related biology news :

1. Teacher effort is linked to difficult students inherited traits
2. University of Illinois awarded National Science Foundation grant to mentor Latino students
3. Invention helps students learn surgical techniques before operating on patients
4. Program for young students increases interest in college attendance and medical careers
5. 11 University of Miami grad students receive recognition in marine and atmospheric science
6. College students want more information about native wildflowers
7. UC Riverside is platinum sponsor of national conference attracting high-achieving minority students
8. 5 UM Rosenstiel School students receive NSF grad reserach grants
9. Students get a feel for soil-water relationships
10. Middle school students co-author research on enzyme for activating promising disease-fighters
11. Students design early labor detector to prevent premature births
Post Your Comments:
*Name:
*Comment:
*Email:
Related Image:
Students' water-testing tool wins $40,000, launches nonprofit
(Date:2/4/2016)... , Feb. 4, 2016 The ... apparently one of the most popular hubs of ... MetaHIT and other huge studies of human microbiota, ... past few years, the microbiome space has literally ... biomedical research. This report focuses on biomedical ...
(Date:2/3/2016)... http://www.researchandmarkets.com/research/d8zjcd/emotion_detection ) ... "Emotion Detection and Recognition Market by Technology ... Tools (Facial Expression, Voice Recognition and Others), ... Global forecast to 2020" report to ... ) has announced the addition of the ...
(Date:2/2/2016)... Technology Enhancements Accelerate Growth of X-ray Imaging ... and computed radiography markets in Thailand ... Indonesia (TIM). It provides an in-depth analysis ... as regional market drivers and restraints. The study offers ... market attractiveness, both for digital and computed radiography. Market ...
Breaking Biology News(10 mins):
(Date:2/10/2016)... ... February 10, 2016 , ... Benchmark Research, a fully-integrated network ... two long-standing principal investigators (PI) to the roles of Chief Medical Officer, Clinical ... Dr. Laurence Chu, a Benchmark Research PI in the Austin office, will assume ...
(Date:2/10/2016)... ... February 10, 2016 , ... LATHAM, NEW YORK... Marktech Optoelectronics will ... conference in San Francisco’s Moscone Center from February 16-18, 2016, and at the ... These latest InGaAs PIN diode standard packages feature a TO-46 metal can with active ...
(Date:2/10/2016)... Mateo, CA (PRWEB) , ... February 10, 2016 ... ... of Multiplex Testing (PROMPT), a research registry built on the secure online PatientCrossroads ... September 2014. More than 1,600 participants have joined the PROMPT study, which seeks ...
(Date:2/10/2016)... ... February 10, 2016 , ... Global Stem Cells Group, ... Singapore-based Global Stem Cells Network (GSCN) and its affiliate Global Medical Training ... latest adipose and bone marrow therapies. , Through the new collaboration, Global ...
Breaking Biology Technology: