Call edition 2012

A new edition of the Prize of the Belgian Development Cooperation has been launched. This call is open until March 31st, 2011. You can read in the regulations whether you comply with the criteria for participation.

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Slow filtration with synthetic fibres as a substitute for sand filters

William Antonio LOZANO RIVAS student laureate

°1979 Colombia
Engineer Environmental Technology, Universidad de la Salle, Bogotá, Colombia, 2003

Filtración lenta en medios fibrosos como sustituto de los lechos granulares

Water is the origin of all life on earth. The availability of pure water in sufficient measure is vital to a sustainable and healthy environment. William Lozano is an engineer in environmental technology. His research into a simple and cheap technology for treating untreated water endeavours to provide an answer to the rising demand for good quality water in developing countries.
William Lozano’s thesis concentrates on an exceptional technique for producing potable water which has the advantage of consisting of only one step, namely slow filtration. Slow sand filtration or biological filtration is a much-used and robust way of removing suspended solids from water. In most cases the filtration medium consists of several layers of sand of different particle sizes and relative density. Micro-organisms that attach themselves to the grains of sand are responsible for the biological purification of the water. With his study of the use of alternative filling materials for the classic slow sand filter, William Lozano ventures into new and original territory. The candidate investigates the use of synthetic fibres as a substitute for sand.
The use of polypropylene fibres does indeed appear to be a promising alternative for slow sand filters in the production of high quality drinking water. The lengthy tests on an experimental scale showed an improvement in physical and chemical terms as well as in bacteriological quality. Moreover, William Lozano achieved an increased filtration speed with these polypropylene fibres, which entails a reduction of the area necessary for an installation. Use in densely populated towns is consequently within reach. In the results the 100% removal of pathogen bacteria is conspicuous.
William Lozano emerges from this study as a promising researcher. The scale experiments are correctly conceived. The methods used are clearly described. He starts from hypotheses to which, at the end, a clear answer is formulated. The candidate analyses the data in a correct statistical way.
With this work of high scientific quality William Lozano opens up interesting perspectives for a guaranteed drinking water supply for poor communities in developing countries.

report by Prof. Dr. N. De Pauw, Department of Applied Ecology and Environmental Biology, Universiteit Gent, Belgium