An investigation into the production and performance of low-technology ceramic filters for point-of-use drinking water treatment in developing countries
Lack of access to wholesome water is a significant factor in morbidity and mortality for over one billion people in the developing world. Classical western water treatment tedmologies are unsuitable, and often unsustainable, interventions due to the lack of infrastructure and the prohibitive cost of installing, operating and maintaining such systems. A locally produced simple filtration system, developed from low-tedmology ceramics and operated at the point-of-use, represents one of the most promising approaches for an effective and sustainable solution. Filters fabricated using simple clays, tempered with common waste materials and produced using techniques that are ubiquitous to local artisans were found to be capable of removing bacteria with extremely high efficiency (average removal rates >99.98%). Considerations for materials (clay and temper), manufacturing (moulding, drying and firing) and operation (duration, regeneration and flow conditions) were made to ensure that the optimum balance of simplicity and performance was achieved. Simple system adaptations were made to the basic filtration units by incorporating low-technology adsorbents capable of removing other contaminants of concern, such as arsenic and heavy metals. The end product is a cheap and simple ceramic material, suitable for use in household filtration systems, which allows the effective removal of bacteria, associated pathogens, toxic pollutants and metals from contaminated water, and notably, can be produced and operated without the need for imported skills or materials.