Irish-led WaterSPOUTT clean water project backed by €3.6m EU funding

4 Jul 2016

An Irish-led international research project that aims to use solar power to disinfect water, called WaterSPOUTT, has been awarded €3.6m by the EU to expand into impoverished nations.

The solar water disinfection process – referred to as SODIS – is considered one of the most realistic ways of treating water that could potentially hold harmful microbes in regions where expensive treatment plants are simply not an option.

Currently, it’s estimated that around 660m people globally do not have access to safe drinking water, yet only 5m in developing nations have access to water treated using SODIS, as it is currently only capable of producing small amounts of water.

Currently, access to water obtained using SODIS treatment is capable of only filling a two-litre bottle of water, however, a new Irish-led project now has €3.6m in EU funding to roll out a project that can provide 20 litres of water for the same amount of effort.

Called WaterSPOUTT, and led by researchers from the Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland (RCSI), the project will be aiming to provide affordable access to safe drinking water throughout Sub-Saharan Africa and other resource-poor countries.

A team from 12 nations

As part of the WaterSPOUTT project, the 12 nation-strong international team of researchers will pilot and bring to market three novel solar-based technologies, including rainwater reactors, solar jerrycans and solar-ceramic filtration systems.

Aside from the RCSI, there will also be other Irish institutions working on WaterSPOUTT, including Maynooth University, led by Prof Honor Fagan, and Dublin City University, led by Dr Brid Quilty, as part of the 3U Global Health research programme.

WaterSPOUTT coordinator Prof Kevin McGuigan of the RCSI said: “This exciting new research programme will develop technologies to treat larger amounts of water in the household in the developing world.

“By using larger containers of water it will reduce the workload for families to provide their own safe drinking water, preventing illnesses, particularly in the very young and very old, who are most vulnerable to water-borne diseases.”

Girl drinking water image via Shutterstock

Colm Gorey was a senior journalist with Silicon Republic