15 May 2017 • by Lotte Hoes
Innovative water purification system: drinking water for everyone
How could you develop a small sustainable desalination system that any household could use? This was the question students taking the minor called ‘Re-design for Good Governance and Peace’ were asked to answer two years ago. Emad Khatibzadeh, now a graduate of Mechanical Engineering, couldn’t stop thinking about this. Together with the company he interned with, lecturer Damon Golriz, Jerry van Slinderen (a student in Industrial Product Design) and others, he worked on an affordable water purification device that anyone living in a country where clean water can’t be taken for granted could use: the Boomym Decentralised Desalination Device.
The most recent prototype of the Boomym Decentralised Desalination Device was tested last month at an army base in Mali where researchers successfully obtained potable water from polluted sources such as the Niger. But how does it work? The Boomym is a device that separates minerals from each other in an innovative way. About the size of the large coffee machine in the Atrium, the machine uses thin membranes that separate the minerals. These membranes can divide certain areas from each other and filter fluids such as water. This way, harmful bacteria and substances that produce foul odours can be eliminated. In the Boomym, this process is also accelerated by electrodialysis so that it can produce 10 litres of potable water in one hour without using much electricity. ‘The Boomym uses about 100 Watts an hour. That’s less than having a television on for an hour,’ says Emad with a smile.
The origins of the Boomym go back further than just the minor that Emad took two years ago. Damon Golriz, a lecturer in Mechanical Engineering, was already conducting research commissioned by Professor Joris Voorhoeve on finding sustainable methods of producing clean drinking water within the framework of the Research Platform Good Governance for a Safe World. ‘Together with the platform, I then came up with the research question for the minor: How could you develop a small sustainable desalination system that any household could use?’ says Damon. It was a question that fascinated Emad in particular. Six years ago, he emigrated from Iran, a country also confronted with drought. ‘In the summer, we often had access to water for only eight hours a day, even when it was very hot. We definitely had a major water shortage. I hope I can use the Boomym to do something about these kinds of problems.’
In any case, the makers of the Boomym can count on assistance: the Research Platform Good Governance for a Safe World at THUAS is supporting them financially, and the school is supplying students who can work on the project. The Ministry of Defence is also interested in the project and invited the researchers to test the Boomym at its base in Mali. According to a press release issued by the Ministry, Defence likes to incorporate technological developments. ‘This is because preventing or solving conflicts requires more than just military means. Non-military professionals and organisations are also essential for keeping the world a safer place.’ Damon says that this doesn’t automatically mean that the Ministry will start using the Boomym. ‘We still have to test it first at various locations – places like the Middle East or refugee camps.’
Photo credits: Jerry van Slinderen, Industrial Product Designer