LCA Comparison of Centralized Water Treatment Systems and In-Home Ceramic Water Filters in Bendekonde, Suriname

Luke Moilanen
Ashlee Vincent
Rabi Gyawali
Dr. John Gierke

May 18, 2012

Michigan Technological University Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering

A United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) survey reported that 75% of the 28 systems
surveyed no longer function (Webster and Roebuck, 2001). This technology has various aspects to
be considered when deciding upon implementation of such a system, one of which to be considered
in conjunction with reliability is environmental impact as compared with other water treatment
technologies currently available. One of the most technologically appropriate alternatives to centralized
water treatment systems for implementation in the interior Suriname is the utilization of ceramic filters
in individual homes of the community.

Economics might suggest that point-of-use ceramic filters would be financially advantageous over
centralized water treatment. Differences in environmental impacts are less obvious. On one hand, a
centralized system requires more materials but the energy requirements are low (solar) and practically
have no emissions. Ceramic filters require firing a kiln and mining and processing clay, which would
cause recurring emissions. A Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) was performed to quantitatively measure
environmental impacts for the creation, transport, use, and disposal of a given product or process. The
goal of the LCA was to analyze individual steps in the product life cycle to provide an overall quantitative
measure such as energy consumption and/or global warming potential, as well as serve as a mechanism
from which individual steps within the product life cycle can be compared to determine which particular
step contributes the largest amount to the overall total.


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