UNESCO-IHE Technology for Arsenic Removal awarded

Fri, 19/11/2004

UNESCO-IHE technology for arsenic removal from drinking water enjoyed much earned recognition when it received the Holland Innovative Yearly Award in the category of Water Technology. The awarding ceremony was held on November 16th, in Rotterdam, amongst 300 guests. ID-NL Award grants the most innovative and outstanding achievements in The Netherlands.

With the awarding of UNESCO-IHE technology, the committee recognizes the efforts and the results achieved after more than five years research. The team’s initial objective, lead by Dr. Branislav Petrusevski, was to develop a simple, low-cost, point of use arsenic removal system based on adsorption into iron oxide coated sand that were appropriate for the rural communities to use at the household level. Ultimately, the highly effective “Family Filter” was developed after years of intensive laboratory and field research. The laboratory’s team played a main role in the development of the technology.

The Family Filter can remove arsenic from drinking water irrespective of its concentration. The unit is simple to use and operates under gravity and does not require any chemicals. It can produce approximately 100 liters of arsenic-free water per day for drinking and cooking use sufficient for 20 persons for up to 18 to 24 months without absorbent replacement. Twelve Family Filters have been successfully operating in five Bangladeshi villages since February 2004. In addition to arsenic removal, the Family Filter demonstrated a potential to effectively remove iron. In the second phase of the project, which is expected to begin in early 2005, several hundred Family Filters will be provided to families in selected villages of Bangladesh.

One step further

Building upon the successful development of the Family Filter, The UNESCO-IHE team has initiated the development of arsenic removal technology suitable for the centralized application based on similar treatment approach. Pilot tests have been conducted in Chalastra (Greece) and Mako (Hungry). The pilot plants in both towns have consistently produced arsenic-free water from highly arsenic concentrated groundwater (up to 300 ppb) during several months of operation. Presently the research at UNESCO-IHE's laboratory is in process to further optimize this technology, specifically the regeneration cycle. In an on-going project, supported by the Dutch Ministry of Economic Affairs, UNESCO-IHE, together with VITENS, SELOR and MTV, a regional Hungarian water supply company, is working on a study that should assess feasibility of this novel arsenic removal technology for applications in southern Hungary.

Congratulations to the UNESCO-IHE team (lead by Dr. B Petrusevski, Dr. S. Sharma, Prof. Dr. J. Schippers, Ing. F. Kruis, Dr. P. Keldeman and Ing. F.Weigman) on its achievement.