Water Filtration System for Heavy Metal and Bacterial Removal on the Navajo Nation

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UA Department of Chemical and Environmental Engineering
Academic year: 
Due to the lack of existing public water infrastructure, uranium and arsenic concentrations in drinking water pose a variety of health risks to the Navajo people. The unregulated water sources are often contaminated with bacteria as well. This project aims to provide a water filtration unit capable of reducing uranium, arsenic and coliform bacteria below the limits set by the EPA.

The filtration system consists of an adsorption column with packed beds of chitosan and granular activated carbon. The system’s pump is powered by a battery that is charged by a stationary bicycle. The team created a prototype of the unit, as well as synthetic water representative of the region’s groundwater chemistry, to test adsorption capacity for heavy metals and the lifespan of chitosan. The project applied principles of fluid mechanics and mass transfer operations to optimize filtration efficiency and energy consumption. The unit complies with EPA and tribal laws for potable water and hazardous waste disposal.

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