The development of a water purification system for use in West Africa

Bradley Rogers, Mark Henderson, Thomas Sugar

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


In this paper, we describe the results of a project in which undergraduate engineering students developed and deployed a water purification system for use in rural Africa. The location of the project is a small village of 392 people in rural Ghana named Famanye, which is approximately a 40-minute drive from Accra, the capital. The only water sources in the village are brackish water from a pump and a very small, terribly polluted runoff-fed pond. The water from the pump is too salty for consumption, and the residents are forced to use the water from the pond, since the nearest fresh water source is two kilometers away. To address this problem, a team of students in the multidisciplinary engineering program on the Polytechnic campus of Arizona State University are developing a water purification system based on a unique, patented heat recovery scheme in which heat transferred from the clean water condensation process is used to evaporate the contaminated water. The result is that the needed heat input to the system is greatly reduced; the system is simplified; and the units can be reliably deployed in undeveloped rural areas. The system has been designed to be low cost, easy to produce and to require little maintenance, enabling the village to manufacture and sell the units to neighboring villages. The project described in this paper is part of a larger interdisciplinary initiative at ASU known as GlobalResolve, in which sustainable entrepreneurial models for economic progress in developing countries are pursued. This leads to unique design constraints on projects that result in very rewarding experiences for the students involved.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalASEE Annual Conference and Exposition, Conference Proceedings
StatePublished - 2008

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Engineering(all)


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