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The Development of a Remediation Approach for the Removal of Bacteria and Toxic Metals for Use in Rural Uganda

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Reliable access to safe drinking water is among the United Nations' Sustainable Development Goals. This goal remains unrealized in rural Ugandan villages, where water contaminated with bacteria and toxic metals is common. This project is a broader collaboration at the University of San Diego with international partners and involves a two-step approach that makes use of locally available materials. A tea bag filled with treated banana peels and activated carbon will be designed to target toxic metals. This particular Mechanical Engineering Capstone project emphasizes the elimination of bacteria from water using the xylem and phloem of native plants, including eucalyptus, as a filtration matrix. Water from local rivers, boreholes, lakes, and collection systems is filtered using a simple set up in which a sample of tree branch is tightly sealed in a PVC tube and water is forced through the sample using a syringe. Preliminary results indicate that this technique is effective at removing fecal coliforms from contaminated water. Further testing is conducted through a collaboration with Azrieli College of Engineering Jerusalem in Israel. The development of a reliable sealing mechanism between the xylem sample and its housing and establishment of an adequate flow rate will inform the design of the filtration mechanism. The intended final design is a system that is effective at removing bacteria and select toxic metals from water at an acceptable flow rate; the design must be sustainable at the local rural Ugandan level utilizing appropriate technology.

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The Development of a Remediation Approach for the Removal of Bacteria and Toxic Metals for Use in Rural Uganda

Reliable access to safe drinking water is among the United Nations' Sustainable Development Goals. This goal remains unrealized in rural Ugandan villages, where water contaminated with bacteria and toxic metals is common. This project is a broader collaboration at the University of San Diego with international partners and involves a two-step approach that makes use of locally available materials. A tea bag filled with treated banana peels and activated carbon will be designed to target toxic metals. This particular Mechanical Engineering Capstone project emphasizes the elimination of bacteria from water using the xylem and phloem of native plants, including eucalyptus, as a filtration matrix. Water from local rivers, boreholes, lakes, and collection systems is filtered using a simple set up in which a sample of tree branch is tightly sealed in a PVC tube and water is forced through the sample using a syringe. Preliminary results indicate that this technique is effective at removing fecal coliforms from contaminated water. Further testing is conducted through a collaboration with Azrieli College of Engineering Jerusalem in Israel. The development of a reliable sealing mechanism between the xylem sample and its housing and establishment of an adequate flow rate will inform the design of the filtration mechanism. The intended final design is a system that is effective at removing bacteria and select toxic metals from water at an acceptable flow rate; the design must be sustainable at the local rural Ugandan level utilizing appropriate technology.