UB research has a clear focus on drinking water

Oct 6, 2014

Across the world, there are problems with getting clean drinking water. At the University at Buffalo, a group of undergraduates is working with an engineering professor to provide clean water for a few pennies and no cost for fuel.

Jim Jensen is an Engineering Professor at the University at Buffalo.
Credit photo from the University at Buffalo

Cleaning water is well understood. Just look at the treatment plants in this area, especially along the Niagara River. However, they require large amounts of chemicals and electric power.

In much of the Third World, neither is available.

Working with Engineering Professor Jim Jensen, undergraduate researchers are learning how to use the sun to heat water to the point it's safe to drink. The students are trying to use materials which might be available in a impoverished village, scrap lumber and plastic sheeting.

"It's kind of like that old saying about, you know, if you give a person a fish they can eat for a day and if you teach them to fish they can fish for the rest of their lives. And so, we're trying to do that with drinking water," Jensen said.

"Instead of providing with equipment that might break down in a year, we're trying to develop ways they can treat their own water."

Sophomore Engineering student Deshawn Henry says the research is interesting and applicable to someone whose family roots are in Jamaica. It also gives him an idea what he might do once he receives his UB degree.