Water is a necessity for life on Earth. To secure water quality and maintain continuous access to water will be one of society’s great challenges in the future. Water-resource issues are complex to manage, and water treatment and distribution require high-cost investments in infrastructure. To less developed countries, supplying the population with clean water is an arduous task in general – and in remote areas, even more so.

”There are many methods available to clean water from pathogenic microorganisms, but technology is only part of the solution”, says Anders Ruland, CEO of Watersprint AB. ”It obviously has to work in primitive conditions and be reasonably low-cost. In our experience, success will depend on many factors with intricate interactions among them. Any technical solution must be accepted by authorities, and systems have to be properly maintained. It is also essential that the population has an understanding of the connection between clean water and better health. There has to be trust in the purification method, and a sense of common responsibility for treatment and distribution.”

”We have developed an innovative UV LED technology to purify water in municipal, hospital and industrial settings. Now, we see an opportunity to use similar methods in developing countries”, Anders continues.

Efficient nanotechnology purification

Prototype of D4Field – a water purifier for developing countries.

Common methods of water purification include chlorine dioxide treatment and filtering. They are often resource-demanding and not always efficient. Ultraviolet  irradiation (UV) is another proven and reliable disinfection method. Bacteria, parasites, viruses and protozoa are killed or incapacitated by the high-energy radiation.
Conventional systems use mercury-vapor discharge lamps. Lamps are often large and unwieldy, and heat the water as a side effect. They also require a certain amount of warm up time, and in continous use, energy consumption will be relatively high. If the lamp is damaged, mercury might leak into the environment. The lamp life is about one year, and spent lamps must be disposed of properly and handled with care – not a certainty in developing countries.

”With UV LED, the light is generated by nanotechnology. This offers many environmental and economical advantages. Watersprint’s products are based on blue LED technology, awarded with the 2014 Nobel Prize in Physics. It is an enabling technology, making groundbreaking new purifying methods possible. Among other products, our portfolio contains D4Shower and D4Tap, eliminating bacteria and viruses from shower- and drinking water”, Anders Ruland explains.

”The purification does not require any chemicals, and the LED lamps are mercury free. The equipment is very energy efficient due to a built-in flow sensor; the light is only turned on while water is flowing. Mainenance and handling is easy. Altogether, these qualities are what lies behind the development of D4Field – a product aimed at the needs of developing countries”.

”D4Field has a capacity of 60 litres per minute, with an energy usage of 30 W. In normal usage, it can run for three years without maintenance. Besides the germicidal effect, the low energy consumption is a major advantage. Nanobased LED lamps are efficient and long-lasting. The purification equipment can also be deployed in locations where electricity is scarce, thanks to the addition of solar cells. Photovoltaic water treatment could be a suitable option for field hospitals and refugee camps”, Anders points out.

Water treatment for shower rooms

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The D4Shower purifying module is connected to the shower mixer.

Shower rooms in sports halls and baths are environments vulnerable to the growth of bacteria and viruses in the water. This can lead to severe diseases, like Legionella outbreaks. Legionnaires’ disease primarily affect the lungs and may cause serious complications. It is a problem arising frequently – the Malmö adventure bath Aq-va-kul, where facilities had to be temporarily shut down, is one example.

The D4Shower purifying module is placed right next to the shower mixer. “Watersprint’s D4Shower was tested at Aq-va-kul in 2014. The results are promising. Legionella concentrations were dramatically reduced, reaching a level one hundred times below the threshold. Watersprint is now selling the product, and several municipalitites are installing it this summer. The purifier is no bigger than a regular shower mixer and can be connected to it in the shower, right next to the point of usage – thereby securing water quality. The system comes with wifi and software, allowing for remote monitoring of the process”, Anders Ruland concludes.

The article was published in August 2015