Shining the light on contaminated water

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On March 17, 2008

When a water supply is contaminated, people are usually ordered to boil their H2O. But if Curt Elmore’s emergency drinking water system proves reliable, people will be able to drink water that has been treated with ultraviolet energy.

Elmore, GeoE’86, an associate professor of geological engineering at Missouri S&T, is working on a portable prototype of the system for the U.S. Army. The Leonard Wood Institute has provided more than $245,000 to support the research.

Elmore’s drinking water system, which runs on wind and solar power, could be deployed to disaster sites or combat areas. According to Elmore, water can be pumped from a pond or stream into the system, where it is then exposed to energy from a UV lamp.

The UV lamp, which looks like a fluorescent light bulb, is capable of destroying bacteria and even explosives compounds in groundwater. In Elmore’s prototype, the treated water is stored in a tank and delivered to thirsty consumers through a spigot. “For example, people staying at emergency shelters could fill personal water bottles while they wait out a disaster,” he says.

Elmore plans to test the system at Fort Leonard Wood in the coming year. He says the prototype can be hauled by a pick-up truck and doesn’t require a lot of maintenance.

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On March 17, 2008. Posted in Research, Spring 2008