24 November 2014

Team Spotlight: Ram Pump

The main purpose for the Ram Pump is to provide AguaClara plant bathrooms with clean water. This semester the Ram Pump subteam will be focusing on deciding whether or not the Ram Pump should be a stand alone entity or a part of the plant itself. Ultimately, deciding whether or not to include the Ram Pump as a part of the plant is a cost consideration. The pump could be sold separately to reduce construction costs.

Ram Pumps are not an AguaClara innovation and are sold commercially. Past Ram Pump subteams have tested the AguaClara design for the Ram Pump to commercially bought Pumps and discovered that the AguaClara design performs just as well as the commercially bought product but costs significantly less.
“The cost of the AguaClara Ram Pump design is probably under $100,” Abby Brown ‘17 said.

The Ram Pump design was implemented into the San Nicholas plant during the Honduras trip this past winter break. The pump initially worked great but has since stopped working. The current team is attempting the accurately model the actual plant design in order to work out the kinks in the system.

“the pump itself is doing what it needs to be doing.There’s not enough head loss,” Brown said.

In order to increase the head loss the team would have to raise the system which has proven difficult.

“Overall the problem is we can’t simulate the environment accurately because we’re just in room and can’t raise the bucket as high as it would be in the field,” Kadambari Suri ‘17 explained.

03 November 2014

Team Profile: Stacked Rapid Sand Filter

Stacked Rapid Sand Filters are an AguaClara innovation that are significantly easier to operate and maintain in AguaClara plants. The Enclosed Stacked Rapid Sand Filters are an adaptation of these filters for flow rates of 3 L/s or less. Flow rates such as these are common through the India plants and the eSTaRs subteam will be working closely with AguaClara LLC in India. This Semester’s team consists of Senior Environmental Engineering majors Mary Millard, Sarah Bolander and Savannah Wing, Operations Research Junior Skyler Erickson and Sophomore Environmental Engineer Subhani Katugampala.

The eStaRs subteam was a part of the AguaClara summer internship program.

“The biggest project over the summer was getting the backwash system working,” Millard said.

This semester’s team will be working closely with engineers on the ground in India. “We’re hoping to help solve a lot of the problems going on in Gufu,” Erickson said. “We really want to find the upward turbidity the system can handle and by the end of the semester we’ll have a better understanding of the extremes the system can handle in the field.”

“We’re currently discussing how we could run several filters in parallel,” Bolander said “They’re already doing this in India but we’re looking for something more easy to handle.”

Summing up the semester’s goal nicely Millard noted “The LLC is working with TaTa in India and trying to produce next version eSTaRs on a large scale. We want to use our data in the lab to make sure it’s fine tuned and improved.”

27 October 2014

Chemical Dose Controller (CDC) Team Profile


After fabricating a new design for the Chemical Dose Controller (CDC), this semester’s team consisting of Senior Environmental Engineers Jeanette Liu and Andrea Cashon and Sophomore Chemical Engineer Christine Leu, looks to begin testing this semester.


In an AguaClara plant, the chemical dose controller acts as a semi-automated system that linearly increases the dosage of disinfectant and coagulant with an increase of flow. With this, AguaClara plants can operate at the most efficient chemical dosage levels despite any changes of flow through the plant.

Last semester, CDC fabricated a lighter lever arm, thus making it easier to ship, intended for plants with lower flow rates that do not need coagulant, such as in India. In addition to being light, the head tank must be chlorine resistant due to the AguaClara plants use of Chlorine as a disinfectant. Last semester’s CDC team adjusted a Nalgene water bottle to act as the head tank.

Looking to this semester, CDC anticipates to now test the equipment. One specific concern is that while the body of the Nalgene bottle is chlorine resistant, the cap is not, so additional adjustments and fabrication may be required. One of the current proposed solutions to the corrosion issue is to use a PVC pipe instead of a nalgene bottle and fasten a cap to the bottom of the PVC pipe. Additionally, the CDC team will be looking at testing the LFOM to determine if the size decreases by 10 cm if the linear relationship between the flow into the plant and the dosing still applies. If these test prove the relationship still stands the tank size can be scaled down. The scaled down plant size has the potential to cut construction plants and increase AguaClara plant efficiencies. The overall goal of the semester, however, is to see if all of the small adjustments, such as new eye bolts that are susceptible to corrosion and height adjustments, to the overall system will result in a greater improvement to the plant.

Eventually, the team hopes to make an equipment list and a guide to send out to plants on how to construct the improved CDC system.

15 August 2014

India update and new opportunities

AguaClara water treatment plant on top
 of a water storage tank in the village
of Ronhe, Jharkhand, India

The Cornell AguaClara program continues to grow into a global network with a vision for Safe Water on Tap for Communities Everywhere. 
In early July I visited the village of Ronhe in Jharkhand, India and their AguaClara water treatment plant with low flow stacked rapid sand filters (red/white/green columns in photo below) and chemical dosers. The facility is waiting for chemicals and then it will be fully operational. The system include a solar powered pump, an elevated storage tank with an AguaClara water treatment plant on top of the tank, and piped water to all of the households in the village.
On July 16, Ken Brown, Maysoon Sharif, and I met with Dr. Smita Misra in New Delhi, India. Dr. Misra is a senior economist at the World Bank and is the team leader for a $1 billion Rural Water Supply and Sanitation for low income states project that is underway in India. We presented the technologies we are showcasing in Jharkhand and in Honduras and discussed their applicability for scale up. Our new technologies for providing safe water on tap in villages generated a great deal of interest. We discussed system approaches to improving the performance of rural water supply systems. The World Bank project has $93 million dedicated for education and capacity building and Dr. Misra was enthusiastic about opportunities for collaborating.
Dhaval Mehta (Cornell '14) and
Maysoon Sharif (principal, 
AguaClara LLC) inside the Ronhe
AguaClara water treatment plant.
We met with Tata Water Mission in Mumbai and AguaClara LLC is exploring the possibility that Tata will fabricate our Low Flow Stacked Rapid Sand Filters for use in village water supply schemes.
We visited Somaiya Vidyavihar University and two of their village projects that were funded by the Girivanvasi Trust. We were hosted by Cornell alumnus and Indian industrialist and philanthropist Samir Somaiya ChE '90, MChE '92, MBA '93.  We are exploring opportunities for an ongoing collaboration between the AguaClara program at Cornell and Somaiya Vidyavihar University.
The Indian government has made providing piped water for villages a priority. AguaClara LLC plans to establish an India office in the coming months so that they can focus on the opportunities for scale up in India. AguaClara can provide expertise on how to make village water supply systems both high performing and sustainable. This is an amazing opportunity to improve the quality of life in rural India.
In the coming months I will be working with Ken Brown to assemble an AguaClara Advisory Council (AAC) that will oversee the combined AguaClara program at Cornell and AguaClara LLC. The AAC will extend our network for entry into additional countries and help establish an AguaClara Center at Cornell so that Cornell can expand its role as the global leader in safe drinking water supply.
A few weeks ago I learned that Professor Lion and I have received a National Science Foundation award for EXPERIMENTAL EVALUATION AND MODELING OF HYDRAULIC FLOCCULATION SYSTEMS UNDER CONDITIONS OF TURBULENT FLOW. This award will enable us to continue our research into the fundamental mechanisms of flocculation with the goal of improving the design of hydraulic flocculators. Our proposal is based on our new flocculation model that for the first time makes it possible to predict flocculator performance based on the physics of the process.
I am excited about the amazing opportunities for innovation, learning, and making the world a better place. At Cornell we develop new understandings of the fundamental mechanisms that underlie drinking water treatment. We change student lives with more than 500 students over the past decade having engaged in our innovation system. AguaClara LLC’s expanding role in the world will employ more Cornell graduates as they transfer knowledge generated at Cornell to local partners with the vision of providing safe water on tap for communities everywhere.