Pitt | Swanson Engineering
About

Mission

The Ceramic Filter Project engages students in research and service-learning experiences that focus on the needs of marginalized communities for safe drinking water. We provide support to NGO’s and community organizations engaged in developing sustainable local businesses that manufacture low-cost ceramic water filters.

Why Ceramic Water Filters?

According to the World Health Organization, 785 million people lack even basic drinking-water services. Globally, at least 2 billion people use a drinking water source contaminated with feces. Contaminated water can transmit diseases such diarrhea, cholera, dysentery, typhoid and polio. In addition, contaminated drinking water is estimated to cause 485,000 diarrheal deaths each year.  (WHO Drinking Water Fact Sheet, 2019)

In marginalized rural communities, it is not unusual to find that effective water treatment is absent, while, inadequate water treatment facilities are overwhelmed in many rapidly growing cities. In fact, large-scale water treatment infrastructure is not being built fast enough to address the global drinking water problem. Household water treatment and storage may be the only viable solution for marginalized communities if inexpensive and sustainable point-of-use technologies can be implemented on a very large scale.

Clay-based ceramic water filters are among a small number of point-of-use technologies that are recognized to be promising alternative technologies.  The use of locally sourced materials in ceramic water filters has also been shown to be a key factor in sustainable approaches to water treatment.

Ceramic Water Filter Solutions, Potters for Peace, Potters without Borders, RDI Cambodia, Wine to Water, Spouts of Water and other NGOs have developed a model for establishing manufacturing facilities that make low-cost ceramic water filters. Practitioners can adapt this technology to their locally sourced materials, circumstances and culture to develop a viable business that sells the filters to local inhabitants for about US$ 15. Hundreds of thousands of ceramic filters have been placed in countries such as Nicaragua, Guatemala, Honduras, Ghana, Nigeria, Tanzania and Cambodia. Unfortunately, there is still a considerable amount of development work and implementation to be done to scale this technology to the size of the contaminated drinking water problem around the globe. In this respect, NGOs that establish filter factories and the social entrepreneurs that maintain them require support in topics such as ceramics processing, design engineering, public health and business.