STAB Wins Grant for Water Filtration System Design

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A Charlottesville school is one of only 15 "InvenTeams" nationwide to receive a grant from the Lemelson-MIT Program to fund research on a new invention.

High school students at St. Anne's Belfield school are working on designs for a water purifier to be used in emergency situations. The almost $10,000 grant will fund research and construction of a prototype over the next nine months. The result will hopefully be a water filter that can make brackish or chemically polluted water drinkable.

Students have already been working on the design of the filter for a year. In June, center of arts and sciences professor Bob Troy submitted their work to MIT, along with almost 1,000 other schools. Now, Troy says the students will be working to make their design for a four-stage portable filtration system a reality.

He says the intent is for the product to be used in disaster situations where clean water isn't readily available, like the Elk River chemical spill earlier this year in West Virginia.

"It's a multi-step process that begins with really a surface tension and large particulate elimination process,” Troy said, “so you can take heavy oils and some of the obvious contaminants out, and then through a number of stages, including charcoal filtration, possibly ion-exchange resins, and ultimately a reverse-osmosis, which will remove salts.”

When complete, Troy says he believes the filter will look similar to a series of medical IV bags.

The students will head to MIT in June of next year to present their prototype at the EurekaFest. But Troy says the school also plans to host an open house in February so the community can see the invention as well.

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