UBC Theses and Dissertations

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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Materials for manufacturing low-tech, low-cost ceramic water filters and the business models for their distribution in Central America Nichols, Brandon David


Water is a critical resource to the human race, yet half the planet's population experiences water scarcity and 780 million people do not have access to clean water sources year round. For those with no other choice but to drink from contaminated water sources, they are at risk of contracting a broad range of diseases, most commonly diarrhoea, which the second largest killer of children under the age of five. Residents living in rural areas of developing countries are primarily at risk, lacking access to basic water infrastructure and medical services. To provide clean water to those in need requires culturally appropriate technology that is simple to construct and local made. Ceramic Water Filter Pots (CWFPs) consist of porous clay that acts as a filter, which is coated with silver nanoparticles creating a system capable of removing 99.995% of bacterial pathogens from drinking water and built in any community in the world. Working with a nationally recognized NGO based in Nicaragua, Potters for Peace (PfP), this study aimed to determine the limiting factors of production of CWFP by examining the materials used in three factories in Nicaragua, and the business model used in Guatemala based EcoFiltro. Field work was conducted in three factories in Nicaragua, and one factory in Guatemala. Visual observations of the production methods, testing protocols and business practices were documented visually and used to contrast the facilities production and businesses practices. Clay samples were collected from the Maysuta (n=2) and Filtron (n=3) factories to be analyzed at the University of British Columbia. The Atterberg limits were determined on the samples and X-ray diffraction analysis was used to determine the mineral makeup of the five samples and the percentage and type of clay in each. This study outlines the limits of clay composition, specifically montmorillonite, which can be used to manufacture ceramic water filters that make a viable ceramic filter, and contrasts the business models of two ceramic water manufacturers.

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