10 November 2011

AguaClara Filtration Technology Reaches Field Testing Stage in Honduras

Stacked Rapid Sand Filter is the first of its kind not to use electricity

The stacked rapid sand filter uses a novel configuration of inlets and outlets to create six parallel layers in a single rapid sand filter bed.  Flow divides among the layers during filtration, and high velocities for backwash are achieved with the same flow rate simply by passing the flow through all six layers in series.
A full-scale stacked rapid sand filter came online October 14 and is producing drinking water in Tamara, Honduras less than a year and a half after the idea was proposed in AguaClara’s Cornell labs. The filter overcomes the historical challenge of providing enough water and pressure to clean the sand bed without resorting to traditional solutions such as expensive electric pumps or multiple filter beds.

AguaClara is a multi-disciplinary program at Cornell that designs sustainable water treatment systems. Since 2007, six water treatment plants have been constructed using AguaClara technology in Honduras; together, the plants provide safe drinking water to 25,000 people every day. The addition of the stacked rapid sand filter to the AguaClara design broadens the ability of the plants to treat surface waters over a wide range of turbidities and makes the technology applicable in a wider range of situations.

[It] is a testament to the power of the AguaClara design approach that we were able to take a brand new technology to full scale so quickly and have it work when we turned it on,” says program director Monroe Weber-Shirk,“I am proud of the AguaClara team.”

The impact of the new design could be widespread: The filter is being eyed by non-governmental organizations and service providers in Honduras not only as part of the AguaClara suite of technologies but also as a standalone replacement for unreliable pressure filters “that everyone hates,” according to Dan Smith, a program engineer in Honduras.