N.J. school to help Bangladesh with water

Stevens Institute to provide technology for removing arsenic

Health of 70 million threatened

March 13, 2001|By ASCRIBE NEWS SERVICE

HOBOKEN, N.J. - Stevens Institute of Technology here and Earth Identity Project, a leading nongovernmental organization in Bangladesh, have signed an agreement to collaborate on a plan to make technology widely available to treat well water contaminated with arsenic in Bangladesh.

Naturally occurring arsenic is found at high levels in many of Bangladesh's aquifers, a situation that threatens the health of up to 70 million people who drink well water there.

Stevens will work with Earth Identity Project to establish a technology center in Bangladesh that will deploy Stevens' patented technology for removing arsenic from drinking water.

Two years of testing

In 1999, engineers at Stevens' Center for Environmental Engineering created a low-cost, small-scale system that families can use to treat arsenic-contaminated water.

Stevens has been testing this treatment system in Bangladesh during the past two years.

The system requires no electricity, costs only a few dollars a year per family and reduces arsenic in well water to acceptable levels for human consumption.

The success of Stevens' recent pilot projects with villages in Bangladesh led to the collaborative agreement with Earth Identity Project.

Earth Identity Project's director general, Nasrine R. Karim, and Stevens President Harold J. Ravech jointly announced the water-treatment agreement.

Project's background

The Center for Environmental Engineering at Stevens Institute of Technology has patented technology for removing arsenic from drinking water.

This technology has been developed on a large scale for water treatment plants and on a low-cost, family-size scale for developing countries in crisis such as Bangladesh.

The Stevens filtration process has been used in the United States for the removal of arsenic from ground water and surface water since 1997.

The filtration units can be installed in public water treatment plants as well as in ground water remediation projects.

With the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's recent requirements for lowering acceptable arsenic levels in U.S. drinking water to a standard of 10 parts per billion (from the previous standard of 50 parts per billion), domestic demand for this technology is expected to expand in the near future.

In Bangladesh, naturally occurring arsenic leaches into aquifers in high concentrations. To produce clean drinking water with such a situation, a family would collect well water in a bucket and add a packet containing coagulant chemicals to the water.

After mixing, the water is transferred to another bucket with sand-based filter material. The water that comes out of that bucket's bottom spout is safe for drinking.

Company being formed

Taking its existing large-scale technologies to a much smaller scale, Stevens developed and patented both the bucket filtration system and the chemicals for it. MetalFilter, a new company under development at Stevens, is bringing the Stevens water treatment technologies to commercialization.

Established in 1870, Stevens offers baccalaureate, master's and doctoral degrees in engineering, science, computer science, management and technology management, as well as a baccalaureate in the humanities and liberal arts. The university has a total enrollment of about 1,600 undergraduates and 2,500 graduate students.

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