South Eastern Kenya University pioneers making water purifiers using local materials


The South Eastern Kenya University (SEKU) has taken a lead position in the making of water purification gadgets using local materials.

The move has seen the University on the Machakos-Kitui highway set pace for Kenya’s industrial revolution, starting with the unveiling of cottage industries.

The porous clay ceramic filters are manufactured from moistened suspensions containing black clay, red and sand soils.  The team, led by a volunteer Korean, Prof Dong Hun Chung, has also established several water projects, ceramic art works and research in water purification techniques.

Prof Chung’s works are premised on making filters to purify water for drinking. The university has also distributed low-cost ceramic water filters to more than 1,000 locals. The move is aimed at improving the socio-economic parameters and health of the locals by having them access clean water.

Good research

Prof Chong has been assisted by Josephat Kimatu, of the department of Fisheries Management and Aquaculture Technology.

Dr Kimatu said their research had produced efficient physiological and biological gravity operated by smoked pots for water purification.

 “We used well calculated volume rations of black clay, red and sand soils, and soil balls, all baked at different smoke infusing kiln temperatures for efficient water purification,” added Prof Chung.

He says the flow behaviour through clay ceramic filters shows that they are effective on microorganism, solids and solutes removal, adding that purifying water using ceramic filters was the most effective way of reducing costs.

“This ceramics can be crucial for nomadic tribes and in times of disaster and guarantee a continued supply of clean water for better health amongst the low income earning societies,” he noted.

Of little help

“The traditional approach has been of little help in industrial growth in developing counties. This course is designed to bridge the gap between the traditional approach and the modern dynamic market-demand, a course that shall act as a suitable stimulus for spurring economic growth.”

SEKU Vice-Chancellor George Muluvi said Chung has been instrumental in research and student exchange programmes with Korean universities. “This is innovative of low cost and small scale ceramic water filters and other analysis of the biological and physical water purification efficiencies,” said Prof Muluvi.

Prof Chung, who has worked in Congo, Gabon and Kenya for the last seven years assisting in water projects, said Kenya has a death rate of 20 per cent in children and is therefore in need of assistance with clean water. About 60 per cent of the rural people in Sub-Saharan region cannot afford electric water purifiers.

He said most of the water is contaminated by livestock, wildlife and human, posing danger to consumers. The project has its scientific basis of the parameters that influence water flow, leaching properties and the durability of different clay mixtures and temperatures.

Clay composition

The micro-structural, flow and mechanical characteristics of the clay composition change geo-spatially in different areas around the globe.

“Furthermore, the functional challenges like the level of water contaminants and material composition are not uniform in all places. The physical and biological purification of efficacy of these ceramics shall be tested and introduced to the locals,” observed Prof Chung.

Recent data according to World Health Organisation (WHO) shows that about 884 million people are still without portable water, out of which 34 per cent are in the Sub-Saharan Africa region.

The World Bank predicts that more than 25 per cent of Sub-Saharan Africa will not be having access to drinkable water resources in 2015.