Investigation of Ceramic Pot Filter Design Variables

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Investigation of Ceramic Filter Design Variables

Molly Klarman

Background: Over four billion cases of diarrhea occur worldwide each year that result in about 2.2 million deaths. Household water treatment and safe storage (HWTS) methods, such as ceramic pot water filters, are one of four proven HWTS methods and have been shown to reduce diarrheal prevalence by an average of 45% among users in a randomized control field trial. Although ceramic filters have been proven effective for improving water quality, users and implementers often express concern over their inability to produce a sufficient quantity of water due to their slow flow rate of approximately 1-2 liters per hour (L/H). If flow rate could be increased by altering the current filter design, it would improve the ceramic pot filter’s viability as a scalable HWTS option.

Objective: The main objective of this study was to determine if the flow rate of ceramic pot filters could be increased without sacrificing filter effectiveness, in terms of bacterial removal, by examining the effect of altering specific design variables.

Methods: At the FilterPure ceramic manufacturing facility in the Dominican Republic, eight new filter designs were created by changing one of three design variables: 1) type of combustible material, 2) the ratio of combustible material to clay, or 3) the size of the screen used to sift combustible material. These eight new filter designs were produced in triplicate, along with six control filters. Local river water was passed through the filters daily, and they were tested once a week for five weeks for total coliforms (TC), turbidity, pH, conductivity, and flow rate. 

Results: The flow rate of all filter designs increased from the first to fifth week by an average of 44.1%. The filters made with alternative combustible materials (coffee husks and rice husks) had average flow rates of 9.9 and 5.0 L/H and average TC reductions of 96.1% and 97.6%. The control filters had an average flow rate of 0.95 L/H and average TC reduction of 99.8%. As the proportion of clay to combustible material decreased from 60% clay:40% sawdust to 40% clay:60%sawdust, the average flow rate increased from 0.38L/H to 5.9L/H and the percent reduction of TC decreased from >99.9% to 98.1%. Once initial flow rate increased above 1.7L/H, TC reductions fell below 99%.

Discussion:Minor alterations in filter design or raw materials can affect the performance of locally produced ceramic pot filters to thepoint where their ability to produce safe drinking water is compromised. The results of this research suggest that the maximum initial flow rate for a properly functioning FilterPure filter is 1.7 L/H. None of the alternative designs, that had faster flow rates had better TC reduction than the control filters. This indicates FilterPure should not produce filters with a clay to sawdust ratio lower than 53% clay to 47% sawdust and different combustible materials cannot be used interchangeably without first identifying optimal proportions.



The author of this thesis is:
NAME: Molly Klarman
Address: 32 Lovejoy RD
Andover, MA 01810
The advisor for this thesis is:
NAME: Christine Moe, PhD
Rollins School of Public Health
ADDRESS: 1518 Clifton Road
Atlanta, Georgia 30322
Other committee members for this thesis are:
NAME: Daniele Lantagne, PE
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
ADDRESS: 1600 Clifton Rd.
Atlanta, GA 30333

Molly Klarman
BA Lewis and Clark College

A thesis submitted to the Department of Environmental and Occupational Health and the Hubert
Department of Global Health
Rollins School of Public Health
Emory University
in partial fulfillment of the requirements
for the degree of Master of Public Health
May, 2009


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