For Openers: News and Notes at Press Time
December 1, 2006
New Water Filter System Is Simple to Use, Easy to MaintainPure drinking water, the most sought after commodity on the planet, soon could be within reach of millions of people, thanks to the ingenuity of New Zealander Russell Kelly, backed by space-age technology developed for NASA. His recently designed filter system can turn sewage-polluted water into drinking water. International patents and trademarks protect the various processes.
Having lived in Kashmir on the India/Pakistan border, and having traveled widely through Asia, Kelly and his wife, Sue, set about inventing a simple filter system that was portable, required low maintenance and that could be operated by gravity, bicycle power or a generator. “We have had 17 years of practical experience in the water treatment business in New Zealand, which assisted us in developing the necessary technologies that were efficient, robust and practical, and, in most cases, did not require electricity to achieve the goal,” he says.
The filter system has been extensively field-tested, according to Kelly. “Most surface water in the world is highly polluted with sewage, and, for that reason, we did not conduct laboratory trials, but chose to conduct real field trials that used the Christchurch Avon River water that has a high E.coli count due to the large bird numbers polluting the river. We also added raw untreated sewage from the city’s treatment plant at Bromley to bring the E.coli and virus counts to a much higher level than would naturally be encountered – even in Asia. The results have been extraordinarily successful, and I am totally comfortable drinking this filtered water,” he notes.
Now that Kelly has his technology working, he has two further steps to complete his goal.
“I am in the process of setting up a charitable trust to facilitate the technology being used to support humanitarian organizations. And the last stage of the plan is to establish teams to travel throughout Africa and Asia and set up training facilities and educate the villagers in the operation of the equipment so they become self-sufficient in the operation and maintenance,” he explains.
The filter is a four-step process where the polluted water first passes through a carbon-based filter. It then passes through a specifically designed 0.2 micron ceramic filter that has an iodine resin embedded in the ceramics to filter out cysts and bacteria, and kill viruses in the water. The water then goes through a third filter that contains an iodine scavenging resin, which removes the iodine taste from the water before it passes through a final carbon-based filter.
Kelly expounds, “The iodine technology was crucial, and we have been fortunate in that NASA not only has given us the rights to use it, but also granted approval to use the Certified Space Foundation logo, as they see our invention as having a ‘significant beneficial impact on mankind.’”
Central to Kelly’s design philosophy was the fact that the filter had to be easily maintained. “Having witnessed village life, we know that whatever piece of equipment is installed, it needs to be extremely robust to withstand the harsh environment. Some villagers might be illiterate, but they are both intelligent and frugal through necessity. The design, therefore, needed to be uncomplicated, with safeguards incorporated to ensure it wouldn’t operate when the filter needs servicing,” he says.
Kelly has developed four models, with capabilities ranging from the 3 gallons per hour of the “Gravity Survival Bag” system, to 10 gallons per minute for the RK-40 model.
While Kelly’s original aim was to produce a filter system that could be used in Third World countries, reaction from New Zealanders who have seen the World Wide Water “Survival Bag” design indicates the potential for local markets. The country’s Civil Defense Department also has indicated their interest in the bag being included in survival kits for all citizens.
Upcoming Expo HighlightsThe National Ground Water Association’s Ground Water Expo Dec. 5-8 in Las Vegas will feature two special programs – one involving contractors’ bottom line and the other, their physical safety.
The Expo workshop “Using the New NGWA Drilling Cost Calculator” will demonstrate a tool for estimating per-foot drilling costs. The calculator takes into account actual job costs, along with indirect costs such as office expenses, shop expenses, insurance costs, utilities, advertising, owner’s salary, vehicle expenses, equipment maintenance, profitability and more.
Also, the Expo will feature three heavy-duty truck simulators from the Center for Transportation Safety. Using the simulators, contractors can try driving 40 different types of equipment including a drilling rig, low boy with a piece of construction equipment on it, tanker (full, half-full), dry van, frac pump, nine- or 13-speed transmission, and on- and off-road.