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Engineer helps poor in developing nations purify drinking water
Date:3/16/2009

KINGSTON, R.I. March 16, 2009 -- The device looks deceptively simple a porous clay pot placed in a five-gallon plastic bucket with a spigot but Vinka Craver believes it can save millions of lives each year.

The assistant professor of civil and environmental engineering at the University of Rhode Island says that when water is poured into the ceramic pot and it passes through to the bucket, the water is purified and becomes safe to drink.

"More than one billion people in the world don't have access to safe drinking water, and about two million people die each year from diarrhea and other diseases related to unhealthy water," Craver said. "Ninety percent of those deaths are children under age five. If we can get people in developing nations to use this filter in their homes, it will save a lot of lives."

Working in collaboration with the non-profit group Potters for Peace and colleagues at the University of Virginia, Craver is testing the effectiveness of the filters and working to ensure that they are accepted in local communities.

Looking somewhat like a ceramic pot in which a houseplant is grown, the water filters are made with a mix of local clay and sawdust and impregnated with colloidal silver. When the clay is fired, the sawdust burns out, leaving a network of fine pores through which the water filters. The filters can be manufactured using local materials and labor.

"Potters for Peace began to distribute the filters in 1998, but only recently research groups are studying them to make sure they work properly," explained Craver, a resident of Wakefield. "I was the first to present in a scientific publication a mechanistic study of their effectiveness at removing bacteria."

Craver's research determined that the ceramic filters without the addition of the silver nanoparticles effectively removed 97 percent of bacteria from the water, and the filters with the silver cleaned the water of more than 99 percent of bacter
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Contact: Todd McLeish
tmcleish@uri.edu
401-874-7892
University of Rhode Island
Source:Eurekalert

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