RaMP: a Rapid and Mobile Purification system.
RaMP is a bicycle powered water purification system complete with Ultrafiltration (UF), Granular Activated Carbon (GAC) filtration, and Ultraviolet (UV) disinfection that is designed for deployment in remote areas to produce clean drinking water. The combination of these treatment technologies provides a multi-barrier approach for reducing microbial and chemical contaminants in drinking water.
The concept of a rapidly deployable water solution must meet several criteria: robust multi-barrier approach for reducing microbial and chemical risks, small footprint for rapidly changing situations, and reduced energy and chemical consumption given the limited resources available in the field. The Rapid and Mobile Purification (RaMP) conceptual design meets all of these criteria. This proposal will provide high quality drinking water regardless of source water quality based upon a highly mobile delivery platform; the solution consists of a complete water purification system mounted on a conventional bicycle. Additionally, RaMP could result in regular income generation for an independent venture operator. In areas with adequate mobile phone infrastructure the bicycle based system would be deployed with a mobile application similar to those utilized by ride-sharing services. This would allow customers to request water service directly from a RaMP operator.
Power for this high mobility solution will be derived from a small generation system that draws mechanical power off the rear wheel of the bicycle while it is mounted in a stationary support frame. The generated power would be stored and managed in a small battery compartment, prior to delivery to a small diaphragm pump which would pressurize the water treatment system. Ultrafiltration (0.1 µm effective pore size) has been selected as an effective physical pathogen barrier with minimal pretreatment requirements. Coupled with GAC filtration for the adsorption of the reduction of taste and odour and chemical of concerns, as well as the inclusion of Ultraviolet disinfection, this mobile solution produces water comparable to that expected in major Canadian cities.
This mobile water treatment unit includes several interchangeable modules that allow for easy repair and renewal of the treatment system. The modules have been sized appropriately to fit on a standard pannier rack and have been selected for a reasonable return on investment that should be achieved within 3 months if the treated water is valued at a very competitive $0.005/L.
The RaMP system being proposed may be deployed as a rapid response asset for areas with compromised water quality, or as a semi-permanent business solution for resourceful independent operators. Water production yield is expected to meet daily emergency demands for up to 100 people (based on a 10 hour working cycle) according to the WHO standard for water-scarce regions. Multiple units could be deployed in parallel as a stationary unit to meet the requirements of larger relief centers or more permanent settlements. Alternatively, the operators would roam independently, supplying households with water treatment solutions onsite (using previously collected rainwater, or water collected from various surface and groundwater supplies). The system is expected to product 200 L/hr, for a total throughput of up to 2000 L per day, or approximately 100 conventional 5 gallon carboys used to carry water. Based on conservative estimates for open market water rates in India and other regions around the world, this would produce daily income of roughly $10 per day, higher than the minimum wage in many impoverished regions of the world.
The RaMP system is therefore submitted as both a rapid response relief platform as well as a potential micro-business venture. The World Vision Innovation grant would provide funding for product development and more importantly product validation. Rigorous pilot testing has been proposed to field locations around the world prior to up-scale to final production levels. Field training and technical manuals would be developed including critical training related to product maintenance and repair activities.
Inorganic contaminants in the source water have not been addressed at this time. It is expected that additional adsorption cartridges could be utilized to reduce inorganic contaminants (ie arsenic). World Vision may be able to assist with preliminary market surveys prior to deployment in certain regions to gauge interest and affordability metrics in the community. The team expects that most regions are likely keen to adopt this mobile solution given the affordable nature of the water that it produces.
Strengths & Weaknesses
The platform currently assumes that a fee based model would be acceptable to both the supporting organization and the communities that are being served. In the event that fee based services are not appropriate, the supporting organization would be required to provide the up-front funding for each system that is deployed with little option for cost recovery. The minimal fee could also be replaced by a token or credit system in which a supporting organization would credit each person in a region with a certain volume of water, thereby regulating the demand for this water solution.
Most Significant Challenge
The mobile platform requires a diligent human operator that will commit to serving the communities in their region. If the operator falls ill, or is unable to complete their daily route to neighbouring communities there is the potential for water shortages. In this situation, operators would ideally assign a back-up person who is capable of operating the system and continue the supply of clean drinking water. The diversity of bicycle design and maintenance standards around the world may prove challenging as the venture is scaled up to various regional markets.