Sunshine on a Cloudy Day: Disinfecting Water around the World

Institution: Michigan Technological University
Funders (12)
Views (12)

Why This Project Is Important 

Approximately 780 million people across the globe are without safe drinking water, and every year over 1.5 million children die from diarrhea caused by a lack of potable water and sanitation.

Project Description 

SODIS allows people to disinfect their water using only a water bottle and natural sunlight. First, a clear (or blue-tinted) PET water bottle is cleaned with soap. Then, the bottle is filled with water and placed in full sunlight for at least six hours. The method kills bacteria and protozoan parasites and inactivates many viruses, significantly reducing the number of children falling victim to dehydration caused by diarrhea. If the water is turbid, or cloudy, SODIS does not work since the sun's UV rays cannot penetrate the water effectively. This leaves millions of people without access to the least-expensive method of purifying drinking water. Our prior research has shown that adding common table salt to cloudy water decreases turbidity caused by pure clays (commonly found in well and lake waters) enough to make SODIS effective, while keeping the salt level within a healthy range. Water from areas with vertisol-type soil, which covers approximately 335 million hectares worldwide, is often clouded by the same type of clays that we have previously studied. Now, we must determine if all types and mixtures of vertisol soils can be cleared enough by table salt to render SODIS effective. Additional funding will allow us to test actual soil samples from around the world to see where else SODIS is feasible, and where public information campaigns sharing the SODIS-and-salt method should be concentrated.

Meet the Researcher

Joshua Pearce

Richard Witte Professor of Materials Science & Engineering and Electrical & Computer Engineering at the Michigan Technological University. Director of the Open Sustainability Technology Research Group and faculty advisor for the Michigan Tech Open Source Hardware Enterprise.

Questions for the Researcher

john soyring's picture
John Soyring  November 22, 2013 - 9:21am
I encourage Michigan Tech students involved in this water project to view and listen to the video at:
NatashaChopp's picture
Natasha Chopp  November 22, 2013 - 2:10pm
Thanks for posting this! I enjoyed it!

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of $10,000 fund goal
The average donation for this project is $33
days left
Funding is Closed

What Your Donation Can Help Us Do: 

  • Collect and test soil samples from around the world
  • Pinpoint where in the world SODIS sanitation can be used

$1+ 12 Funders

Receipt acknowledging tax-deductible status of your donation.

$25+ 10 Funders

All of the above, plus name listed among our donors in annual report.

$50+ 6 Funders

All of the above, plus a detailed map (suitable to be framed) of Africa—displaying population density and relevant soil types for the study.

$100+ 2 Funders

All of the above, acknowledgement in project publications, and signed copies of all journal articles.

$250+ (1/40)

All of the above, plus a hardcopy of Convergence: Philosophies and Pedagogies for Developing the Next Generation of Humanitarian Engineers.

$500+ 1 Funder

All of the above, plus a custom microchannel polymer heat exchanger with your name (or other) laser welded onto surface.

$1,000+ 1 Funder

All of the above, plus a custom 3D-printed object.

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Gifts to projects listed on SUPERIORIDEAS.ORG are received and processed by Michigan Tech Fund. Michigan Tech Fund is a tax-exempt organization under Section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code acting on behalf of Michigan Technological University. It is the policy of Michigan Tech Fund that a portion of the gifts and/or income therefrom may be used to defray the costs of raising and administering the funds.