Researcher Improves Ancient Water Treatment Technology

Water Treatment with Biochar from Josh Kearns on Vimeo.

“New research into an ancient water filtration technology may provide those living in isolated, rural communities with low-cost, sustainable water treatment.

University of Colorado, Boulder, doctoral student Joshua Kearns has been working on improved methods for filtering water through charcoal. He has been field-testing his research in Northern Thailand, where water-borne diseases are a critical public health issue effecting Burmese refugees living in border communities.

Kearns reports he is improving methods for making sustainable, locally generated biochar from corn cobs, sugar cane, bamboo, wood pruned from orchards, and other agricultural waste. Biochar could prove a low-cost substitute for activated charcoal in small-scale water treatment systems. Kearns’ research is currently focused on optimizing a method for effectively heating biomass to produce a low-emission biochar better than charcoal produced using traditional kiln-based methods.”

More at the source: RWL Water
Free reports at Aqueous Solutions
Thanks to Richard for this tip who suggested that Kearns’ filter tanks be stacked vertically as one unit with gravity feed. That’s how regular sand filters work. Note how many different appropriate technologies can work together (= topics of other blog posts we’ve covered): Low tech machines turn agricultural waste into biomass fuel pellets. Smoke-free gasifier stoves burn agricultural wastes and produce biochar for cooking, heating, purifying water and boosting crop production. Low tech pumps such as treadle pumps bring water to the surface for agricultural and domestic use. Purified water is stored in elevated water tanks and piped to the house via gravity feed… There are many other possibilities. That’s why appropriate technology is so interesting.

3 thoughts on “Researcher Improves Ancient Water Treatment Technology”

  1. Now I have even greater incentive to screen out the charcoal from my fireplace ash. I wonder how well a biochar filter would work at reducing calcium levels in our hard water?


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