14 July 2014

[AguaClara Summer Internship 2014] Design Team

This week, we feature the Design Team with Meghan Furton '16 and Serena Takada '17.

Serena '17 (left), and Meghan '16 (right)

The Design Team utilizes Mathcad and LabVIEW to digitize the team's designs for the various operating units of the AguaClara water treatment process. From day to day, they perfect their codes for these designs that require precision so that they can be shared with the engineers that implement the designs in Honduras, India, and elsewhere. Projects that members of the design team work on can vary immensely.

Watch this interview to get an idea of what Meghan and Serena are up to this summer!

02 July 2014

[AguaClara Summer Internship 2014] Subteam Spotlight: Foam Filtration

This week, we are featuring the foam filtration subteam that is composed of four students: Skyler Ericson '16, Abby Brown '17, Ethan Keller '15, and Ji Young Kim '16.

The team is working on foam filtration which is a team focused on constructing and perfecting a water filtration unit targeted at smaller more isolated communities, places that may not be practical to build full scale water treatment plants. The design consists of many layers of porous plastic foam layered inside of a large cylindrical tank that can treat up to 1 liter of water per second. The design also incorporates a way to clean the foam which involves compressing the foam to expel the caught particulates. The main focus of the summer team is perfecting this cleaning system.

Check out the interview to get a sense of their team and get a glimpse of some of their research!

25 June 2014

[AguaClara Summer Internship 2014] Introduction to AguaClara

With the summer session already underway, the basement of Hollister Hall is already abuzz with activity as 15 summer interns and their advisers work on 4 different projects. Under the direction of Monroe Weber-Shirk, these interns, ranging from undergraduates, graduate students, and even recent alumni, are volunteering 40 hours per week to work on these projects through June and July. This intensive summer program aims to bridge the gap between school years effectively without any loss of productivity and to set the stage for a successful new school year. With a full work week to devote to this project team, these students can discover and answer questions that may require intensive research and focus.


The teams that are working this summer are the Design team, Low Flow Stacked Rapid Sand Filter team, Foam Filter team, and the Tube Flocculation team. From now until the end of the summer session on August 1st, this blog will feature the subteams that are working together this summer and anything else happening within the project team.

Expectations are high this year for AguaClara in general, with two new plans expected to be put into operation as well as four Cornell engineers eager to join the engineers of AguaClara LLC working in Honduras and India. Expectations with the research groups back on campus are just as high with the projects on the tails of a productive 2013-2014 school year, and the students are eager to see how their research will translate to real applications in sustainable water treatment, sanitation, and health.

 There are real consequences to the research done on campus with real communities being affected. This video gives a glimpse of the problems we face in terms of clean water, and the next few blog posts will expound some of the solutions that the project team is developing this summer.

If you want to stay up to date with our upcoming achievements, check out our website and various social media accounts:
Official Website - http://aguaclara.cornell.edu/
Facebook - https://www.facebook.com/CUAguaClara
Twitter - https://twitter.com/CUAguaClara
Youtube - https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCXq9V81yyUOTQYokfp5wXfw

10 April 2014

Honduras Health Centers: Atima

Health Center of Atima
Atima seemed like a very progressive city. The treatment plant was built in 2012 and had an effluent water turbidity of about 0.2 NTU. That’s a pretty big step considering just over a year ago, they didn’t have a water treatment system.

Carmen Mendoza who has worked at the Atima Health center for two months spoke to us about changes in health since the treatment plant was built. They’re trying a new “decentralized” health model that aims to prevent unhealthy practices rather than simply treating the symptoms. The model also targets children under age 5, pregnant women and women who have recently given birth. I think it’s great that they’re trying to educate people about the importance of clean water. (Before going to Honduras, I hadn’t even realized what an issue this was!) They’re also building a new maternity ward that should be finished in March and they will hire new doctors for this.

The health center at Atima also treats water for surrounding villages, which is where most of the diarrhea cases come from for a variety of reasons, among them being the fact that the people in the villages haven’t followed health advice and to them clear water is clean water. It must be pretty frustrating to understand how important it is to have clean water, and to tell others about it, only to have them ignore you.

Within the first six months of 2012, there were 250 cases of diarrhea (so a projected yearly number of 500 cases), and in 2013 there were a total of 405 cases. Hopefully it’s not just coincidence that there was a decrease of almost 20% in the cases of diarrhea, but we would need more data to see if this trend continues.

There are probably a number of reasons that there wasn’t a greater change in the number of diarrhea cases. Even if people are getting clean water, they could be practicing unhygienic habits which can also make them ill. Also turbid water is not the only reason people get diarrhea. But even a small change is better than no change!

To be honest, I was really impressed with Atima. The treatment plant was obviously well run, and they are taking great strides towards improving health education. It’s crazy to think that just over a year ago, they didn’t even have a treatment plant and now they probably have some of the cleanest water in Honduras.

- Felice Chan