delware environmental institute

UDaily: Gates Foundation funds civil engineering professor's novel wastewater treatment fabric

UDaily: Gates Foundation funds civil engineering professor's novel wastewater treatment fabric

Each year in India, waterborne diseases sicken approximately 37.7 million people. One and a half million children die of diarrhea alone, according to a report by WaterAid. In the developing world, open pit latrines are common, but they pose a significant risk to public health and the environment. Open pit latrines can be as sophisticated as an outhouse or as simple as a trench in the ground.

A team at the University of Delaware has reinvented the common latrine by adding a breathable fabric as a simple way to protect the nearby groundwater and wells from contamination, while also protecting sanitation workers from exposure to pathogens.

The work was originally funded through the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation’s Grand Challenges Explorations Fund.

Now with $250,000 in additional funding from the nonprofit, the UD research team, led by environmental engineering professor Steve Dentel, is piloting the membrane technology in Kanpur, India, one of the country’s largest industrial cities. He is collaborating with representatives from WaterAid, a nonprofit organization.