Hydration for Health from an Early Age – How Ceramic Water Filters Can Help

Hydration for Health from an Early Age

Water is one of the most essential nutrients for health, and yet many developing countries still have vast numbers of the population who do not have access to fresh clean drinking water. Water that is contaminated by bacteria can become, rather than a lifesaving ingredient, a cause of disease and even death. Although there are various initiatives around the world designed at promoting the availability of clean water, such as ceramic water filters, the problem remains in many communities and ongoing support for these initiatives is vital. Lack of clean water and the ensuing dehydration can lead to chronic health conditions; having only enough water to save from complete dehydration will keep a person alive, but the quality of that life will be severely reduced. If the water available is unclean, the exposure to health risks is even greater. The effects are particularly potent in young children, severely impacting on their development.

Dehydration in Infants and Children

Children become dehydrated more quickly than adults due to their higher bodily percentage of water and a lesser ability to regulate body temperature, as well as immature kidneys and body processes. In young children with an undeveloped immune system the potential of succumbing to infections from drinking dirty water is higher, and the infant mortality rate for infants living in areas where the water supply is unclean is very high. Babies are at particular risk; although breastfeeding is generally considered to be the best diet for infants up to six months, this guideline generally applies to breastfeeding mothers who are themselves healthy. Where the mother is dehydrated herself and drinking contaminated water the benefits of breastfeeding are significantly reduced, with a severely dehydrated mother unable to produce breast milk. The only other option is to make up infant formula milk – where there is access to it - with contaminated water. Although infants and very young children are at a higher risk of death, children of all ages require clean water and proper hydration for optimal development.

Effects of Dehydration on Development

Even moderate dehydration has been shown to cause exhaustion and lethargy, lower the immune system and even impair cognitive function, which then impacts on learning and skills development. Chronic dehydration over time can lead to digestive problems, rheumatism, anemia, growth impairment and even premature aging in children. Drinking dirty water only makes the problem twofold, as the bacteria present often cause diarrhea, which has an incredibly dehydrating effect on the body, and at it’s worst can kill. The sufferer will feel painfully thirsty, yet the only water available will cause further diarrhea and dehydration in a vicious circle. Continued drinking of unclean water can cause fatal disease, with thousands of children every year dying from drinking dirty water. Overcrowded cities without toilets and running water are particular danger spots. A clean fresh water supply and proper hydration for children is crucial. WaterAid has previously described these issues as one of the biggest problems in world health today.

How Ceramic Water Filters Can Help

Inexpensive and effective, ceramic water filters rely on the small pore size of the ceramic to filter out harmful bacteria. In developing countries, this technology is utilized with clay pot filters that can be made and used easily and are a strong safeguard against harmful bacteria contaminating drinking water, although they are believed to be less effective against viruses. The making of clay pot filters can also be a sustainable business for developing countries, helping to minimize poverty for some families and communities and as they are culturally acceptable there are few barriers to their use. By keeping out the majority of bacteria and other pathogens the pots enable drinking water to be cleaned and filtered effectively. Clean drinking water of course means less dehydration, impacting on the development of third world children. Although an often overlooked factor in dietary recommendations for children water intake is in fact a vital and integral part of optimal nutrition. Hydration is an important factor in nutritional development and may be particularly important in the diet of children from developing countries whose nutritional intake is likely to be poor in other areas.

Although the problem of contaminated water supply also needs to be tackled by raising awareness and helping countries and people implement proper sanitation and access to fresh water, ceramic filters are an excellent way to help struggling families quickly and effectively, ensuring the water they give their children is as clean as possible.

Guest Writer: Lisa Major

Firing Temperature and Shrink Tests

CWF Clay Test
Test tiles 2cmx10cmx0.5cm



The first round of tiles for the filter clay temperature and shrinkage tests. Over 60 tiles to test at 925 950, 975, and 1000 degrees Celsius. We were sent between 250 and 500 grams of each sample, which turned out to be a little small. It took 100grams to make 4 tiles 2cmx10cmx5mm thick. and each time the particle analysis test was preformed we used 100grams as well. The particle analysis test takes 24hours to complete, and the firings about 6 hours, not to mention the prep and wait times. Our scale turned out to be giving bad readings so it threw off a lot of the data we collected. now we begin again.

Kiln Building: The Mani Kiln

Ceramic Pot Water Filter Kiln Building Resources

Building the Mani Kiln

Kiln building: The Mani kiln is an improved design for a wood burning kiln with a capacity of 50 ceramic pot water filters. Designed and distributed by Manny Hernandez - Northern Illinois University.

Complete drawings are included in the following PDF

Download (PDF, 4.08MB)


2012 Year End Activity Report

Field Work:

UNICEF Feasibility StudyBurt Cohen was sent to East Africa to study the feasibility of developing additional ceramic water filter production in Kenya. Burt visited the Turkana and Garissa regions and uncovered valuable information for future water filter projects in the area. We have partnered with UNICEF and other NGO’s in the region to expand production of CWF, such as the Rwanda factory established in 2005. At the moment we are waiting for funding and human resources to become available from these partners to continue this work.
German Red Cross/Red Cresent – SomalilandBurt Cohen and Kai Morrill traveled to Somaliland to work at the Biyo Miire CWF factory in Hargeisa, run by the Somaliland Red Crescent Society. During their short stay they were able to troubleshoot several issues, and expand production significantly. The key component in this visit was the construction of an improved propane kiln which fires over 100 filters at a time. Burt will be returning to the factory this spring to do safety evaluations, review production and see if we can assist the factory in making further advances. Read more about this at: (http://tinyurl.com/cgltk9g)
Healdsburg Community Church – Guinea BissauKai Morrill traveled to Guinea Bissau in November to undertake a feasibility study. He reports that the hosting Christian organization “Central Social”, was very welcoming and Kai was impressed with their administrative capabilities. Guinea Bissau has been suffering from political instability and lack of public sanitation infrastructure. The country has an extremely young population with slow economic development, the majority of the population suffers from water borne disease, avoidable by the use of ceramic pot filtration. If funds are located to develop the proposed factory, thousands of lives could be saved, and the world will be a better place. To donate to this project, or any other PWB endeavor, you can do so through our website, you may add specific details in the comment box. (http://www.potterswithoutborders.com/donate/)

“BISSAU, 31 March 2009 (IRIN) – With 80 percent of the Guinea Bissau capital’s water contaminated with harmful bacteria, residents are used to outbreaks of cholera and other deadly diarrheal diseases, but donors say they can fund major infrastructure projects only if stability can be guaranteed.” UN Humanitarian News.

Research and Development:

Factory MappingEarlier this year we began an effort to collect the contact information of all the factories we communicate with and this information has now been added to a single Google map, making contact with regional factories much easier. International buyers and others interested in the technology are now able to locate and connect with factories in their areas. It will also facilitate the development of safety standards for ceramic water filters. (http://goo.gl/maps/5d3CA)
Particle AnalysisRaw clays used in filter-making are dug from natural sources. The location for digging is chosen based on its regular consistency and the volume of supply; having a steady supply of clay available for factories’ production and expansion is very important to the long term success of the factory. There is a certain amount of variability in all natural clay sources; from week to week, the clay can vary significantly as the collection location moves along the vein. In order to maintain consistency, two or more clays of different qualities are often blended together. Clay bodies of variable particle distribution can be blended in appropriate proportions so that a more homogeneous mixture can be maintained.

This summer we published a set of protocols to establish a standard method for classifying clays for filter manufacturing. This procedure uses a standardized hydrometer to measure clay particle distribution as batches enter the factory and adjust the mixtures accordingly. For more information, and to download a copy of the protocols look here: (http://tinyurl.com/bpqy8kx)

The “Kosim Water Keg”Beginning in 2011 PWB has been helping researchers from MIT and Pure Home Water in Ghana to develop an improved ceramic filter unit which uses negative pressure to increase flow rates. We produced several prototype models that were shipped to American researchers who assembled and tested them. You can follow their results at: (http://tinyurl.com/c72w3le)

On The Road:

NCECAIn March, we sent Burt Cohen and Kai Morrill to the conference of the National Council on Education for the Ceramic Arts (NCECA) in Seattle. This is a large conference and trade show of industry, university, and ceramic arts professionals which meets once a year to hold workshops, demonstrations, and exhibitions. We shared a table with our colleagues from Potters For Peace and held meetings with several ceramic filter consultants. We also raised money for projects, spoke about our work, and signed up new members. (http://nceca.net/static/conference_home.php)


Howells UKThrough a partnership with Howells Railway Products, LLC. in Manchester, UK we were able to begin distribution of press and mold sets to Ethiopia, Somaliland, and Cameroon. The quality of the equipment is much improved from units manufactured in the field. Unfortunately, due to the challenges of moving equipment across multiple national borders, the implementation has been slower than hoped. We are actively working with local partner NGOs to get the molds into place and ready for production.
CameroonAn agreement has been reached with the African Center for Renewable Energy & Sustainable Technology (ACREST) to begin preliminary project development in Cameroon. ACREST is looking for stable funding partners to develop a factory as soon as is viable. The organization currently operates a factory which produces improved cook-stoves. This facility is an ideal candidate to diversify into CWF production because the materials and processes are similar. It is estimated that about $20,000 is required to initiate the new enterprise. Towards this end, a press and set of molds are already on the way from Europe.


Thanks very much to Beth Campbell of Ontario for fostering the work of Potters Without Borders. Beth spoke with communities about the organizations work.

Thanks to all those who attended the fundraiser at O’Keefe Ranch last summer, your assistance has helped expand projects that continue to bring filter technology to desperate areas.

Congratulations to Juliette Arabi of Hogar De Christo in Ecuador for beginning filter production at the Guyaquil filter factory!

Thanks to Tia McLennan and John Hatten for assisting with the newsletters, your help is much appreciated.

Why become a member?

Joining PWB allows us all to have a disproportionate impact in the world compared to our small size. Communities served by the factories which we assist have no alternative methods of getting safe water. We want to keep putting donations towards project specific expenses, in order for this to happen we need the membership dues for operating the Registered Charity. Each year we pay for the Website, Accounting expenses, Postage, Insurance, and Printing costs. It is our dues that keep the “organization” running. By paying dues you provide the basic operational structure necessary, for advancing our mission of fostering the building of ceramic water filter factories. We have no paid administrators, the only way we can continue to be sustainable is with with your help.

We are recruiting directors and other volunteers

Do you have experience or skills applicable to this position? Know someone who does? Contact: kai@potterswithoutborders.com

In particular, we are looking for volunteers with a background in accounting, law, organizational development, grant writing, and, most of all, who have energy and passion for helping Potters Without Borders grow and succeed in our mission. (http://www.potterswithoutborders.com/join/)

Investigation of Ceramic Pot Filter Design Variables

Original link to document: http://www.filterpurefilters.org/pdf/Investigation%20of%20Ceramic%20Pot%20Filter.pdf

Download (PDF, 1.35MB)


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



The following questions highlight steps you can take to ensure your project’s success:

A. Understanding the local situation is key to a successful project.

  • What water sources do most locals use?
  • What are the impurities that must be removed?
  • Do people currently filter, boil, chlorinate, or otherwise purify their water?
  • What other purification methods are locally available? At what price?
  • What studies have been done to learn if people in the local community are receptive to the idea of using this or any kind of water filter?

  • Have they traditionally used ceramic water jugs for storage in the past?
  • What is the climate? Is there a rainy season?
  • How long?
  • Is the area politically stable?
  • Identify local laboratories capable of conducting water quality tests.

B. We recommend partnering with an existing pottery or brick-making workshop, ideally one that would have experience with marketing and health. Utilizing competent local potters will help ensure project success.

  • Is there presently a relationship between the potters or pottery collective and the sponsoring organization?
  • What kind of pottery do they produce?
  • What temperature do they fire to?
  • Do they have a history of being able to meet quotas?
  • Do local potters also have the experience and ability to fabricate lidded clay receptacles with a five to seven gallon capacity?
  • How far are the potters’ sites from the sponsoring organization’s operations?
  • How will management of the facility be structured? It will be very important to have a highly involved liaison responsible for management and communications between the two groups.
  • How will employees/skilled labor be paid?
  • By whom?
  • What is the distance between the factory site and the market (projected distribution area)?

C. Having a sustainable marketing plan is even more critical than the initial level of funding.

  • Who will provide the financial resources ($25,000-$30,000 USD) for start up?
  • How many visits by PWB consultants including airfare, per diem and stipend have been budgeted?
  • Who will provide the on-going business loans or subsidies for marketing?
  • For inventories of plastic components?
  • How large is their in-country staff?
  • What is the procedure for attaining approval and/or quality recognition from the Ministry of Health?

Identify local health promoters/NGOs through which the filter can be marketed in bulk. Contact them to evaluate their interest in the product.
Identify a local print shop to make brochures; instructional stickers; and educational, health, and marketing materials.

D. Communications

  • Does the ceramic workshop communicate through the internet?
  • Does the site have Internet access within or nearby?
  • Do they have a website?
  • Does anyone there speak, read and write English or Spanish?

E. The availability of facilities and suppliers can also determine project sustainability.

  • How far from the workshop is an adequate and affordable clay supply?
  • Is the clay plastic and of good quality?
  • How do the potters presently process their clay?
  • How far away is the site located from an adequate and affordable source of fuel and combustible (burnout) materials?
  • How will the clay, fuel, and combustible materials be transported, by whom, and at what cost?
  • Does the site have electricity? For how many hours a day?
  • What voltage and amperage is consistently available?
  • Does the site have piped water or a consistent water supply? How often is water unavailable?
  • Are high quality bricks available for kiln building? What sizes are available?
  • Is there a machine shop where repair items can be fabricated nearby?
  • Are there any restrictions on the importation of colloidal silver?
  • Is there a nearby source of affordable plastic bags?

Identify your local or foreign supplier of plastic five gallon pails and oversized lids; price, and availability.
Identify your local or foreign supplier of plastic faucets; price, and availability.

Needed Equipment
Please study the list and pictures. Is there:

  • A hammer mill
  • A hydraulic press
  • A clay mixer
  • A pug mill
  • Potters wheels
  • A kiln (please indicate interior size, type of fuel used, and firing temperature)
  • Production and storage space (indicate square footage of each)
  • Shelving for 1000 filters

The Workshop:

  • Date established
  • Type of production
  • Forming or production method(s) utilized
  • Number and size of kilns
  • Equipment currently installed
  • Electrical: Voltage and amperage available
  • Water availability
  • Number of men and women workers
  • Vehicles
  • How is pottery presently is marketed and distributed?

Potters Without Borders wants to work with you to create a social enterprise that will be not only sustainable, but profitable for all involved, and especially to the benefit of those most in need of potable drinking water. We have found that the presence of the above conditions all contribute to a successful project, but we recognize that you may not initially be able to obtain them all without help. Please let us know which of these items you will be able to put in place yourself, and which items you think will require our assistance. We look forward to your questions.

Open Source Receptacle Design – Vhembe


This open source receptacle design was the outcome of a Masters in Industrial Design, from the University of Johannesburgs Department of Industrial Design. The Vhembe Water filter receptacle was designed by Martin Bolton, who lectures at the University of Johannesburg.

This WIKI was created as an open-source showcase of Design Development, Design Sketches as well as all relevant Computer Generated Models which can be used for design refinement/ prototyping, tooling, mass production etc.


It is suggested that the MTech dissertation be read to allow for the understanding of how and why this product was developed. Furthermore, all field research, data gathering, data analysis and development of design requirements will be evident.

Design and Development of Ceramic Pot Water Filter Receptacle – Vhembe

Independent Appraisal of Ceramic Water Filtration Interventions in Cambodia: Final Report

Joe Brown and Mark Sobsey
University of North Carolina School of Public Health
Department of Environmental Sciences and Engineering
Submitted to UNICEF – Cambodia, 5 May 2006

This study is an independent follow-up assessment of two large-scale implementations
of the household-scale ceramic water filteration after 2 and 4 years in use.
Approximately 1000 household filters were introduced by Resources Development
International (RDI) in Kandal Province from December 2003 and 1000+ filters by
International Development Enterprises (IDE) in Kampong Chhnang and Pursat provinces
from July 2002. The American Red Cross, CIDA, AusAID, UNICEF, and the World Bank
Development Marketplace Programme have supplied support to these two NGOs for
various parts of the production and distribution cycle of the filters.

In October 2003, IDE completed a field study of the ceramic water filtration devices after one year in use,
yielding promising results. The study used bacterial analyses of water samples and user
surveys to measure the performance, acceptance and use of ceramic water filtration devices in 12 rural villages.
The field study also assessed health improvements, time savings, and expense savings.
In August 2005, RDI completed a similar internal study for the filter distribution in Kandal
province, although findings from this assessment have not yet been released. The
present study follows up on these previous assessments and represents an independent
appraisal of the performance of the ceramic water filtration projects undertaken by IDE and RDI. It is
hoped that the findings produced will aid in assessing the water quality and health
impacts of the ceramic water filtration interventions to date and yield useful information on the
sustainability of the filters as implemented.

The study was carried out in two parts:

(1), a cross-sectional study of households
that originally received filters to determine uptake and use rates and associated factors;

(2), a nested longitudinal prospective cohort study of 80 households using filters and
80 control households to determine the microbiological effectiveness and health impacts
of the filters in household use. We measured (i) the continued use of the filters over
time as the proportion of filters still in use since introduction, and identified factors
potentially associated with filter uptake and long term use; (ii), the microbiological
effectiveness in situ of the filters still being used, as determined by the log10 reduction
values of the indicator bacterium E. coli; and (iii), the health impacts of the filters as
determined by a prospective cohort study using data on diarrheal disease prevalence
proportions among filter users versus non-users. We also collected a variety of other
survey data intended to elucidate successes and challenges facing the long-term
sustainability of this intervention in Cambodia. Stratified analyses, logistic regression,
and log-risk regression with Poisson extension of generalized estimating equations
(GEE) were employed in analysis of cross-sectional and longitudinal data to determine
factors associated with long term filter use and effectiveness of filters currently in use.

Major findings are that (i), the rate of filter disuse was approximately 2% per
month after implementation, due largely to breakages; (ii), controlling for time since
implementation, continued filter use over time was most closely positively associated
with related water, sanitation, and hygiene practices in the home, cash investment in the
technology by the household, and use of surface water as a primary drinking water
source; (iii), the filters reduced E. coli/100ml counts by a mean 95.1% in treated versus
untreated household water, although demonstrated filter field performance in some
cases exceeded 99.99%; (iv), microbiological effectiveness of the filters was not
observed to be closely related to time in use; (v), the filters can be highly effective
against microbial indicator organisms but may be subject to recontamination, probably
during regular cleaning; and (vi), the filters were associated with an estimated 46%
reduction in diarrhea in filter users versus non users (RR: 0.54, 95% CI 0.41-0.71).


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What Makes an Efficient Ceramic Water Filter?

An important but brief study was published last year by individuals working with the RDIC factory in Cambodia to find what factors make a more efficient ceramic water filter. In this study several empirical tests were preformed to investigate the relationships between filter mix ratios and firing schedules. Perhaps the most relevant results demonstrated by these tests demonstrated the lack of correlation between flow rate and bacterial removal efficiency. In the test, filter discs ranging from 2 to 18 liters per hour showed similar e-coli removal efficacy.

This has long been suspected in the industry where standard flow rate best practices specify a 1.5 to 3 liter range of acceptability. These flow rates were set in an attempt to ensure that new factories making filters were producing effective ceramic water filters without the ability to effectively test their real ability to remove bacteria.

Other Tendencies of Efficient Ceramic Water Filters

  • Increasing burnout to clay ratio seems to increase flow rate while reducing strength
  • Firing to a higher temperature may increase flow rates, (it is assumed that firing higher increases pore size)
  • Increasing firing temperature may result in a stronger filter.
  • Firing higher seemed to reduce bacterial removal effectively, but the correlation was weak.
  • There is strong variation in flow rates of filters formed in wet or dry season.
  • Similar flow rates can be achieved by 1: Increasing burnout to clay ratio and reducing burnout particle size 2: Reducing burnout to clay ratio and increasing burnout particle size.

This study clearly presents an argument for further testing of these same variables to produce a more efficient ceramic water filter.

The onus is now on each factory to further develop their manufacturing practices. If the established best practices are to be modified on a case by case basis it should only be by careful experimentation and with the partnership of an independent monitoring agency to ensure that filters being produced meet minimum bacterial removal standards.

Although these results direct us towards a path of study that develops efficient ceramic water filters, any operation in the manufacturing process which relies on additional mechanical or technological resources also removes a layer of appropriateness to the ceramic water filter technology as a whole.

Imagine, for instance, that to make a more effective filter we find that burnout must be screened to finer tolerance. The factory in Somalia must then find a new reliable source a new mesh for their screening machines. The mesh they are currently using comes from out of the country and is very expensive and difficult to obtain. I argue that although the finer mesh would result in a more effective filter, if the basic standards were to change to reflect the greater efficiency it would reduce the appropriateness of the technology as a whole.

Development of a more effective filter is a part of factory scalability, once production of a basic filter has been stabilized a factory is ready to begin the process of improvements. These improvements will be determined by the local environment. After all, there are plenty of more effective filters on the market when cost, manufacturing limitations, and community adaptability are removed from the qualifications.

Studies such as these are important for us to better understand the path ahead with regard to improvement/changes to ceramic water filter production practices. That said, many of the studies assessing these practices are conducted in research facilities using laboratory methods. While this is a necessary first step, it must be followed by a replication of the results in a working filter factory. If this was a part of all academic research there would be a lot less ambiguity.

Link to original study:
Isabelle Gensburger – October 2011

Breaking Down Barriers – Access to Safe Water

Breaking Down Barriers - Providing Access to Safe WaterSubmitted by Heather Black on Wed, 09/12/2012 – 09:43
Local Potters Breaking Down Barriers – Providing Access to Safe Water

North Okanagan residents can turn on the tap and access potable water, or buy affordably priced bottled water from a number of local companies; Potters without Borders (PWB) addresses the needs of those who don’t have either option by breaking down barriers and providing people with access to safe drinking water.

The organization builds water filter factories in emerging countries to help do just that.

“Most people in North America take clean drinking water for granted,” organizer Reg Kienast said. “In Africa and some other developing countries, over five million people—mostly children under six years—die from water related diseases every year.”

PWB filters, made from clay, colloidal silver and porous materials like sawdust, rice husks or coffee husks, remove harmful bacteria like E. coli, cholera, giardia and cryptosporidium. As many nations without access to clean drinking water can’t afford to start their own filtering factories, PWB raises funds and sends experts over to set it up, train staff and then turn it over to them in order to make those communities self-sufficient.

The organization consists of two technicians, Burt Cohen and Kai Morrill, with the rest of the members in charge of fundraising. Their latest event to raise the much needed funds is a Picnic Potluck and Silent Auction Party at O’Keefe Ranch Sunday, Sept. 16 from 12-3 p.m., or until the music stops. The afternoon will include demonstrations, videos, a silent auction of art and other creative items and, of course, music. Everyone is welcome to attend with a picnic lunch, chair or blanket to sit on and a willingness to learn more about PWB.

From Okanagan Advertiser: http://okanaganadvertiser.com/content/help-local-potters-break-down-borders

Breaking Down Barriers – How Can You Help?

Follow this link to make a charitable donation – Breaking Down Barriers – Access to Safe Water. Not ready to give? Drop your email address in the box below to join the conversation.

Particle Size Distribution Analysis for Ceramic Pot Water filter production

Maria del Mar Duocastella and Kai Morrill

Potters Without Borders, Enderby, British Columbia, Canada – September 2012

Abstract: To develop a standard Particle Distribution Analysis testing protocol for use in Ceramic Pot Water Filter factories.

Introduction: Ceramic Pot Water filters are generally manufactured from sources of raw clay that vary in their consistency, some factories have begun using particle distribution analysis to qualify clay batches, as well as for blending multiple clay sources in order to maintain a more homogeneous clay body. In order to promote common testing methods between factories, we have begun herein to develop testing protocols that utilize widely available apparatus and materials. It is desirable to develop an effective test that is easily accessible to individuals with limited laboratory experience. This test must be able to be performed in extremely rudimentary conditions with limited resources while presenting reliably accurate results. We hope that by establishing stabilized testing standards specific to filter production the test data will be useful in comparing clay bodies between all participating filter factories. We find that difficulties in ensuring that identical lab equipment is used (cylinder dimensions) may make it difficult to accurately compare results across different factories. Several standards already exist for soil classification; particles can be classified into categories of Clay, Silt or Sand. These categories are demarcated recognizing that suspended particle size is in direct relationship to settling time. For our purposes, we established a baseline for classification by comparing other standards and examining the results of our tests.

Although it is useful for general comparisons to define the samples by the three categories (Sand, Silt, Clay), for the purposes of detailed clay sample comparison, it is better to collect data from various particle sizes, thus developing a curve of particle size distribution. For this reason we tested samples at 13 different time intervals: 30 seconds, 1 minute, 2 minutes, 5 minutes, 10 minutes, 15 minutes, 30 minutes, 1 hour, 2 hours, 4 hours, 6 hours, 8 hours, and 24 hours. Having this expanded range of sample data allows us to compare samples in greater detail. These times were also chosen in order to complete the test within an 8 hour work day. *Note 1: Samples in Appendix 2 (Raw Data) which fall outside the standard testing procedure (Those prepared 24 or 48 hours before testing) were excluded from the final averages as there was significant variation in their results. It would have been interesting to use the results gathered to compare particle distribution results to burnout mixture ratios used in the participating factories. This proprietary information did not receive specific approval prior to publication.

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Creative Commons License
Particle Distribution Analysis for Ceramic Pot Water Filter Production by Potters Without Borders is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.
Based on a work at http://potterswithoutborders.com/?p=3499.

Best Practice Recommendations for Local Manufacturing of Ceramic Pot Filters for Household Water Treatment

The Ceramics Manufacturing Working Group
June 2011
First Edition

Recommended Citation: The Ceramics Manufacturing Working Group (2011). Best
Practice Recommendations for Local Manufacturing of Ceramic Pot Filters for Household Water
Treatment, Ed. 1. Atlanta, GA, USA: CDC.

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Comparison of Silver Impregnated and Conventional Spigots in Ceramic Water Filters Devices

Marlyn Mendoza*, Monica Krakue** and Vinka Oyanedel-Craver*

*Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering; **Department of Chemical Engineering


Ceramic filters water filtres (CWF) are a promising point-of-use water treatment technology in the developing world that can be made with local materials and labor.  Currently CWFs are manufactured by pressing and firing a mixture of clay and a combustible material such as flour, rice husks, or sawdust prior to treatment with AgNPs.  The filter is formed using a filter press, air-dried, and fired in a flat-top kiln, increasing the temperature gradually to about 900 ˚C during an 8-h period.  This forms the ceramic material and combusts the sawdust, flour, or rice husk in the filters, making it porous and permeable to water.  After firing, the filters are cooled and impregnated with a silver solution (either AgNPs or silver nitrate) by either painting with, or dipping in (Rayner, 2009).  After painting with the antibacterial solution the ceramic component is commonly placed in a five gallons bucket. The contaminated water is placed inside the ceramic component from where it percolated through the porous matrix of the ceramic removing pathogenic microorganism (Oyanedel-Craver, 2008; Bielefeldt et al., 2009). The clean water drip into the plastic bucket where is stored and can be accessed through the spigot located at the bottom of the plastic receptacle. The CWF are capable to remove between 3 to 4 log of the microbial load in the influent water, however is has been observed that re-growth can happen after several month of usage (Kallman et al., 2012). The spigot has been identified as a potential sources of re-contamination of the purified water (Cohen, 2011).

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La importancia de la inversión local

Como técnicos de filtros que somos, nuestra posición es única y nos permite poder tener una perspectiva amplia sobre todos los asuntos relacionados con su desarrollo. Nosotros facilitamos el intercambio de información que se pueda dar entre las distintas entidades involucradas en la investigación, el desarrollo, la financiación, la formación, la producción, la comercialización y la difusión sobre  los filtros cerámicos de agua (Ceramics Water Filters – CWFs). Con el fin de desarrollar una implementación sólida y sostenible, cada una de estas áreas requiere esfuerzos específicos.

El objetivo principal del movimiento de los filtros cerámicos es la entrega a la gente, en zonas conflictivas a consecuencia de agua potable contaminada, de filtros seguros y de confianza. A menudo las implicaciones son encabezadas por grupos filantrópicos provenientes de regiones ricas, en cuanto a la administración de las necesidades humanas básicas. La forma  como se administran las necesidades es de gran importancia para poder determinar si un proyecto es viable a corto plazo y económicamente sostenible a largo plazo.

Las fábricas de filtros cerámicos dirigidas por personas con un gran interés en su éxito parecen tener una mayor oportunidad de sobrevivir que aquellas que se basan en una relación puramente administrativa. Como en cualquier modelo de negocio razonable, la clave está en establecer un personal que adopte su rol con algún tipo de implicación personal en su realización.

Este puede ser un buen motivo que explique el porqué asociarse con un fabricante de filtros de cerámica ya existente puede ser uno de los mejores intereses por parte de una organización solicitante. Cuando las fábricas son gestionadas como empresas privadas por parte de empresarios locales suelen estar mejor equipadas para enfrentar los desafíos de entrar en un nuevo mercado.

Las organizaciones que ya tienen experiencia con empresas locales pueden tener las habilidades y los recursos humanos necesarios para administrar un proyecto. En este caso, se debe considerar como esta experiencia se aplicará específicamente a la fabricación y distribución de los productos cerámicos.

Design of Water Filter for Third World Countries

Louis Chan
Marcus Chan
Jingwen Wang
A thesis submitted in partial fulfillment
of the requirements for the degree of
Date: March 26th, 2009
Supervisors: W. Cleghorn / J. Mills
Department of Mechanical and Industrial Engineering

The residents in third world countries battle against waterborne diseases every day. It is a luxury
to have access to safe drinking water. However, it is extremely difficult to invest on a water filter
with minimal annual income. A low cost water filter can serve as a subsidy such that every
family can take advantage of this luxury. In this thesis, literature reviews on existing water
filters have been completed and design of a dual level water filter with ceramic and activated
carbon is developed. Water flow rate tests are carried out to optimize water filter design.
Further, the filter effectiveness in diminishing various contaminates is analyzed by a licensed
sampling laboratory. A manufacturing line to produce the dual water filters is proposed and the
cost of manufacturing a unit is calculated to be $1.53 USD, which is an affordable price for
people in third world countries. With a low cost water filter available, residents in the third
world countries could enjoy having safe drinking water and improve quality of life.

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Evaluating the impact of production variables on on the effluent water quality of Ceramic Pot Filters

Evaluating the impact of production variables on on the effluent water quality of Ceramic Pot Filters

April 10, 2011

Kristen Jellison, Julie Napotnick, Natalie Smith, Kyle Doup (Lehigh University)

Justine Rayner, Jesse Schubert (PATH)

Vinka Oyandel-Craver (University of Rhode Island

Daniele Lantagne (CDC, Harvard University)

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Current Practices in Manufacturing of Ceramic Pot Filters for Water Treatment

Current Practices in Manufacturing of
Ceramic Pot Filters for Water Treatment
by Justine Rayner
A research project report submitted in partial fulfilment of the requirements for the award of the
degree of Master of Science of Loughborough University
August 2009
Advisor: Brian Skinner, BSc, MSc, CEng, MICE
Co-Advisor: Daniele Lantagne, PE
Water, Engineering and Development Centre
Department of Civil and Building Engineering

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Optimizing Performance of Ceramic Pot Filters in Northern Ghana and Modeling Flow through Paraboloid-Shaped Filters

Optimizing Performance of Ceramic Pot Filters in Northern Ghana and Modeling Flow through Paraboloid-Shaped Filters
Travis Reed Miller
B.S. Environmental Engineering
State University of New York at Buffalo
June 2010
©2010 Travis Reed Miller. All rights reserved.



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Quantification of the Lifetime of Ceramic Pot Filters

by L. A. Hubbel, (Department of Geological Engineering, Missouri University of Science and Technology, 1400 N. Bishop Ave., 124 McNutt Hall, Rolla, MO 65409 E-mail: lhm7f@mst.edu) and A. C. Elmore, (Department of Geological Engineering, Missouri University of Science and Technology, 1400 N. Bishop Ave., 124 McNutt Hall, Rolla, MO 65409 E-mail: elmoreac@mst.edu)

Document type: Conference Proceeding Paper
Part of: World Environmental and Water Resources Congress 2012: Crossing Boundaries
Abstract: Ceramic pot filters (CPFs) are effective, low-cost household water treatment devices. CPF lifetime is assumed by the manufacturer to be one year; however, there are no definitive studies which quantify CPF lifetime. The objective of this preliminary research was to quantify the lifetime of a CPF in terms of the amount of water that can be filtered before the flow rate becomes unusable. Constant head flow rate testing, porosity testing and water quality testing were performed in a laboratory using three CPFs to establish baselines for comparison with field tests using six CPFs manufactured in Antigua, Guatemala. Interviews with 17 CPF users were performed in Guatemala to obtain information on their water and CPF usage. The limited laboratory and field testing showed that flow rate values decreased with increasing cumulative volumes of treated water. The field test data was compared to the laboratory data to estimate the volume of water that would be filtered before the flow rate decreased to an unusable rate. This volume was found to be approximately 1,500 L, which corresponds to a six-month time for a family of six using World Health Organization estimates of daily water consumption. The water quality data collected in the field showed that turbidity decreased after filtering through the CPFs while conductivity and hardness both increased slightly. This increase in conductivity and hardness may be due to rainwater being used as the water source, which typically has low mineral content with very little dissolved solids and hardness to begin with. The number of families interviewed is too small of a data set to provide conclusive results. But the anecdotal data collected from the interview process suggests that the subject families did not believe that a single filter could provide enough drinking water for a family for one year. The large number of CPFs in use throughout the world means that the technology has the potential to have a significant impact on large number of people, and it is recommended that a formal study involving large numbers of filters be conducted to quantitatively estimate CPF lifetimes.