Pioneering technology by scientists at Queen's University Belfast, which is transforming the lives of millions of people in Asia, now is being used to create safer drinking water in the United States.
The award-winning system – Subterranean Arsenic Removal –
removes arsenic from ground water without using chemicals. It was developed by
a team of European and Indian engineers led by Dr. Bhaskar Sen Gupta in Queen's
University School of Planning, Architecture and Civil Engineering.
The technology, based on the principle of oxidation and
filtration processes, already is in use in six plants in West
And the technology now has been successfully tested in the United States, in a rural community outside Bellingham, in northwest Washington State,
where high levels of arsenic in the water had previously caused challenges for
Jeremy Robinson, a member of the Washington State
installation team, says: "We first read about the SAR technology on
Wikipedia. Initially, it seemed too good to be true. Arsenic is a significant
problem for many of the wells in our area. None of the conventional approaches
for arsenic treatment have worked well for us. But, once we recognized the
advantages and elegance of the SAR approach, we started preparing to test it
"With the generous help offered to us by Dr. Sen Gupta
and Queen's University, we are now under way. Our early results have been very
promising. We started the trial in January, on an abandoned well with
alarmingly high arsenic levels. After three weeks, the arsenic level had
dropped substantially. And now, after seven weeks, we are seeing arsenic levels
at or below the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency limit."
Dr Sen Gupta, who visited Washington
State to oversee the installation, says:
"I'm delighted that the Washington
State plant testing has
gone to plan. The key aspects of this life-changing technology are its
affordability and simplicity of installation and operation. The cost of setting
up a plant to produce up to 6,000 litres of water a day averages under $4000 –
less in the developing world – and the operational cost is $20.
"The estimated life of each plant is about 20 years
without any mechanical maintenance, and the system is operated, quite simply,
by the pressing of an electrical switch."
The technology already has attracted interest from other
parts of the United States,
and plans now are advanced for SAR plants to be set up in Cambodia, Vietnam
in the next six months.
New Technology Provides Safer Drinking Water
March 4, 2011