National Academy of Engineering Announces Winners of $1 Million Challenge to Provide Safe Drinking Water
The National Academy of Engineering (NAE) announced today the winners of the 2007 Grainger Challenge Prize for Sustainability. The contest sought innovative solutions for removing arsenic from drinking water that is slowly poisoning tens of millions of people in developing countries.
Washington, D. C. (Vocus) February 2, 2007
The National Academy of Engineering (NAE) announced today the winners of the 2007 Grainger Challenge Prize for Sustainability. The contest sought innovative solutions for removing arsenic from drinking water that is slowly poisoning tens of millions of people in developing countries. Three prizes will be awarded from a field of more than 70 entries.
The prize winners are recognized for the development, in-field verification, and dissemination of effective techniques for reducing arsenic levels in water. The systems must be affordable, reliable, easy to maintain, socially acceptable, and environmentally friendly. All of the winning systems meet or exceed the local government guidelines for arsenic removal and require no electricity.
The prizes will be presented at a gala dinner in Washington, D. C., on Feb. 20, 2007.
Abul Hussam, an associate professor in the department of chemistry and biochemistry at George Mason University, Fairfax, Va., will receive the Grainger Challenge Gold Award of $1 million for his SONO filter, a household water treatment system.
Arup K. SenGupta, John E. Greenleaf, Lee M. Blaney, Owen E. Boyd, Arun K. Deb, and the nonprofit organization Water For People will share the Grainger Challenge Silver Award of $200,000 for their community water treatment system. SenGupta is P. C. Rossin Senior Professor and a professor of chemical engineering and of civil and environmental engineering at Lehigh University in Bethlehem, Pa. Boyd is chief executive officer of SolmeteX Co. in Northborough, Mass. Deb is a retired vice president of Roy F. Weston Inc. (now Weston Solutions Inc.) in West Chester, Pa. Greenleaf is a Ph. D. candidate in civil and environmental engineering, and Blaney recently earned a bachelor's degree in environmental engineering; they performed laboratory research under SenGupta at Lehigh University.
The Children's Safe Drinking Water Program at Procter & Gamble Co. (P&G), Cincinnati, will receive the Grainger Challenge Bronze Award of $100,000 for the PUR™ Purifier of Water coagulation and flocculation water treatment system. Greg Allgood, director of the Children's Safe Drinking Water Program, will accept the prize for P&G.
The Gold Award-winning SONO filter is a point-of-use method for removing arsenic from drinking water. A top bucket is filled with locally available coarse river sand and a composite iron matrix (CIM). The sand filters coarse particles and imparts mechanical stability, while the CIM removes inorganic arsenic. The water then flows into a second bucket where it again filters through coarse river sand, then wood charcoal to remove organics, and finally through fine river sand and wet brick chips to remove fine particles and stabilize water flow. The SONO filter is now manufactured and used in Bangladesh.
The system developed by the Silver Award-winning team is applied at a community's well head. Each arsenic removal unit serves about 300 households. Water is hand-pumped into a fixed-bed column, where it passes through activated alumina or hybrid anion exchanger (HAIX) to remove the arsenic. After passing through a chamber of graded gravel to remove particulates, the water is ready to drink. This system has been used in 160 locations in West Bengal, India. The water treatment units, including the activated alumina sorbent, are being manufactured in India, and villagers are responsible for their upkeep and day-to-day operation. The active media are regenerated for re-use, and arsenic-laden sludge is contained in an environmentally safe manner with minimum leaching.
The PUR™ purifier of water technology that won the Bronze Award combines chemicals for disinfection, coagulation, and flocculation in a sachet that can treat small batches of water in the home. It is simple, portable, and treats water from any source. First, the sachet contents are stirred into a 10 liter bucket of water for five minutes. As the water rests for another five minutes, arsenic and other contaminants separate out. The water is then poured through a clean cloth to filter out the contaminants. After another 20 minutes to complete the disinfection process, the water is safe to drink. As part of P&G's focal philanthropy program, the Children's Safe Water Drinking Program has worked with partners to provide 57 million sachets in more than 30 countries over the past three years, enough to purify more than 570 million liters of safe drinking water. Each sachet is about the cost of an egg.
The National Academy of Engineering (www. nae. edu) is an independent, nonprofit institution. Its members consist of the nation's premier engineers, who are elected by their peers for seminal contributions to engineering. The academy provides leadership and guidance to government on the application of engineering resources to social, economic, and security problems. Established in 1964, NAE operates under the congressional charter granted to the National Academy of Sciences in 1863.
The Grainger Foundation, of Lake Forest, Ill., was established in 1949 by Mr. & Mrs. William Wallace Grainger. It has provided substantive support over the years to a broad range of organizations including educational institutions, museums, and healthcare and human services providers. Mr. Grainger, an electrical engineer, established W. W. Grainger Inc., a national leader in the distribution of maintenance, repair, and operating supplies and components.
A significant aspect of reviewing the finalists for the Grainger Challenge Prize was physical testing of the candidate systems. NAE and The Grainger Foundation wish to express deep appreciation to the U. S. Environmental Protection Agency's Office of Research and Development for hosting the testing at its National Risk Management Research Laboratory in Cincinnati, as well as to the facility's contractor, Shaw Environmental & Infrastructure Inc., for conducting the tests under contract with the NAE.
For additional information about the Grainger Challenge Prize for Sustainability or background information on the global problem of arsenic contamination, visit www. graingerchallenge. org or contact Randy Atkins, NAE senior media relations officer, at 202-334-1508.
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