18 November 2016

Updates from San Juan Guarita and Las Vegas!

The 5 L/s plant in San Juan Guarita is now nearing the final stages of completion!  

The team is currently wrapping up fabrication of two Enclosed Stacked Rapid Sand Filters (EStaRS) with a PVC workshop in Tegucigalpa, and next week the team will travel to San Juan Guarita to begin work on the chemical dosing system.  On the social side the team has already narrowed the operators down to 6 final candidates, and there have been several water board meetings to discuss community expectations, plant sustainability, and a new tariff price.




In Las Vegas, the team is expecting to test the 70 L/s plant for the first time within the next two weeks!














This week the team of operators and APP technicians finished installing the entrance and exit modules for each of the four Open Stacked Rapid Sand Filters (OStaRS).  On the community level, six incredible operators have been chosen as final candidates, and APP has been holding neighborhood level workshops to create awareness and support for the new AguaClara technology. A chemical engineer was also hired for a full time role with the plant, and he will be in charge of monitoring the dose of HCl that is administered to prevent the formation of Calcium Carbonate in the distribution system.

Two new projects will begin in January, one a 30 L/s plant at the Zamorano Pan-American Agricultural School, and the second a 105 L/s plant in the city of Gracias, the capital of the department of Lempira. It also looks like a plant in La Concordia, Nicaragua is on the horizon early in 2017, and the team will be heading to Guatemala next week to assess the feasibility of a 70 L/s AguaClara plant in Quezaltepeque, Chiquimula. APP is taking steps to prepare for the busy year ahead and has hired an additional technician, and will also hold an internal workshop on Dec 2-3 to discuss best practices for our civil and environmental engineers, architects, plant foreman, and technical support roles. The future certainly looks bright here in Honduras and beyond!

07 November 2016

Celebrate 3 milestones for AguaClara

1 L/s plant ships to Honduras for testing

The 1 L/s sedimentation tank is shipping to Honduras VERY SOON. It will leave the Hollister Hall loading dock for Miami this afternoon! The pallet weighs 625 lbs without the flocculator. We will assemble a new pipe flocculator in Honduras in January.

We have 2 student teams working to design a shorter filter that can be added to the 1 L/s plant and that won't require placement at a lower elevation than the rest of the plant.

I dream that by the end of summer 2017 we will have a full plant including flocculator and stacked rapid sand filter that makes a complete prefabricated package.


The AguaClara team is raising funds for the trip to Honduras

This trip will include testing of the 1 L/s plant and if all goes well we will create a plan for the next steps toward using the plant to provide safe drinking water for a community. It takes a community to provide the financial support so that Cornell students can continue the AguaClara RIDE.


Demand for AguaClara water treatment plants continues to grow 

Agua Para el Pueblo has requests for preliminary designs for communities in Nicaragua, Guatemala, and Honduras. My dream of expanding to more countries seems to be happening organically based on the reputation of the plants in Honduras. The growing demand will require evolution of the AguaClara program as we work to ensure that our designs are construction ready and that we have designs for a wider range of flow rates. I'm always looking for wisdom for how to guide the program to expand while maintaining high quality water and the highest quality education!

30 October 2016

Master of Engineering Application for 2017





The AguaClara program in Civil and Environmental Engineering at Cornell University provides an opportunity for Environmental Master of Engineering students to learn about and to invent planet (and people) friendly, sustainable water and wastewater technologies. The program is designed for students who are passionate about making the world a better place and who are preparing for professional careers as innovators and leaders. Recent graduates are employed by: Arcadis, Black & Veatch, Brown and Caldwell, CH2M, ERM, GHD, Veolia North America as well as water departments of major cities, startup consulting, UNEP, and more.

The Master of Engineering program uniquely combines graduate courses with hands on collaborative learning and client-focused innovation in the AguaClara laboratory. The Master of Engineering degree can be completed in either two or three semesters. Share this with your friends and apply now. Contact Monroe Weber-Shirk, founder and director of AguaClara, with any questions you have about joining our community of learners and innovators


The 18 AguaClara student project teams research, invent, design, fabricate, and test novel solutions for global water environmental challenges. AguaClara was one of the very first open source engineering teams. The open source model has accelerated the innovation cycle and the team creates many new inventions every year. The AguaClara designs are created by the team using a novel parametric design scheme that connects engineering design code with 3-D AutoCAD and automated report generation. 


More than 50,000 people are already benefiting from the next generation of municipal water treatment technologies invented by the Cornell AguaClara student teams and built in Honduras by Agua Para el Pueblo. The team is working to share these advanced technologies with other countries including the United States.


Our inventions and designs are based on a deep understanding of fluid dynamics, particle interactions, and reactor geometry. Our curiosity and passion for safe water on tap has led to the first 2 m deep, self-cleaning, zero settled sludge, sedimentation tank that contains both a fluidized bed of flocs and plate settlers.


The team has received numerous EPA P3 awards and is developing arsenic and fluoride removal technologies for an EPA P3 Phase II award. The goal is to test those technologies in India by the summer of 2018. The team is researching high rate anaerobic wastewater treatment with the goal of piloting an anaerobic fluidized bed reactor in the field in the near future. 

As a team member you will gain project management experience, team work skills, and experience applying your engineering skills. The AguaClara lab space includes state-of-the-art custom-designed workstations for computer controlled experiments with easily configured software and hardware. Student teams design and build experimental apparatus and prototypes using a well stocked supply of components and tools.


In 2016 student teams fabricated the first 1 L/s portable water treatment plant using AguaClara technologies. This novel, ultra low energy, village-scale, drinking water treatment plant will be field tested in Honduras beginning in January of 2017. This new technology has global applications for demonstrating AguaClara technologies, rapid provision of safe water after disasters, as well as sustainable infrastructure for hundreds of thousands of small towns and villages that lack access to safe drinking water. 


You will be invited to join an engineering in context trip during the January intersession to tour AguaClara drinking water treatment facilities and to demonstrate new technologies to our Honduran partner organization, Agua Para el Pueblo. There will be opportunities to help with plant maintenance and upgrades as well as opportunities to learn to know community members who have become advocates for safe water on tap.



What do students and employers say about Cornell's AguaClara program?

“The Cornell Masters of Engineering program is one of our top recruiting locations.  The students are well prepared due to the technical knowledge and analytical problem-solving capabilities which they learn.  But it’s the self-motivation, oral & written communication skills, team-building and leadership skills which they learn that make them excellent consultants and allow them to quickly progress within our organization.  Additionally, those involved with the AguaClara program have a passion for improving quality of life which is essential for being a successful environmental engineer.”
(VP at Global Engineering Consulting Firm)
Whenever I’m talking to coworkers or friends who are job hunting, I’ve found that AguaClara always comes up since it was one of the most influential and important parts of my college experience. I definitely attribute most of the skills that helped me start my career to my experience with AguaClara and I can’t thank you enough for providing such a great learning environment for me and everyone else who has been a part of the program.  The combination of hands-on research, technical report writing, and oral presentations is a great structure to develop important skills needed in the real world. The fact that AguaClara’s research impacts and helps real communities made me super excited that a class I’m taking at school can actually have a positive effect on someone and not just be problems from a textbook.(Vicky)
AguaClara has been the  most enriching experience at Cornell in terms of academic quality and practical experience. The entire team believes in knowledge transfer and promotes open learning which is very conducive in building sound concepts along with hands-on problem solving capabilities. While working with  AguaClara, I learnt the actual significance and application of sustainability in  socio-economic context. All the teams associated with Cornell with Professor Weber-Shirk at the helm, are a group of very talented and innovative students and I have learnt a lot from them. (Guneet)"
AguaClara provided me with hands on experience collaborating with students and faculty of many different disciplines to develop and implement new technologies with an immediate impact on people's lives. The overall experience was incredibly powerful and something you could not get from a typical engineering curriculum." (Bradshaw) 
Teamwork. I learned how important working together was and communication. I also learned that valuable lesson that you can still (and should) have fun and love what you're doing while making a difference in the world from the joy and passion of other AguaClara members. (Marianne)
I enjoyed the hands-on learning and seeing innovation rapidly deployed to improve lives. I was able to apply knowledge gained in the classroom in the real-world immediately, without having to wait until graduation or even years after that. (Jeff)
It was my first real experience working on a long - term independent project not associated with class or a job. It was helpful preparing for graduate school (Brianne)
I worked on the design team in the early stages of developing the automated design tool. I loved creating a product that I knew was immediately being used to solve a problem. Learning how to take suggestions from the engineers in the field and incorporate it in a meaningful way was very valuable. (Heather) 
Everything that our teams in AguaClara at Cornell do, is transferred into plants in Honduras that work and treat water for a dozen towns. (Juan)


28 August 2016

New 5 L/s Plant in San Juan Guarita, Lempira, Honduras!

Construction of Honduras' smallest AguaClara plant yet is under way in San Juan Guarita, Lempira. The plant will treat 5 L/s for about 200 households in this small municipality in southwestern Honduras and will feature several innovations to the AguaClara technology.

The San Juan Guarita plant will be the first to include our new, compact entrance tank and flocculator design. The new entrance tank is compact enough that it fits in the first channel of the flocculator, eliminating the significant capital cost of building a completely separate tank. The new flocculator design incorporates additional obstructions between baffles to provoke more collisions (more chances for flocs to stick together!) in the previously unused space.

The plant will also be the first in Honduras to use the EStaRS (Enclosed Stacked Rapid Sand Filter) technology. These filters are closed to the atmosphere, as opposed to the OStaRS (Open), and will be pre-fabricated from 24" PVC pipe in a PVC workshop in Tegucigalpa. These filters don't require as much depth, or excavation, so they're less expensive to build.

Construction of the plant began at the beginning of July and is expected to continue through the end of October. Operator training and water board capacity building will be starting shortly.

Click here to see the latest pictures of the plant in San Juan Guarita!