Vote to fund an amazing project: filters than can make the drinkable water anywhere, including in conflict zones

© Mihnea RatteAn initiative from Sibiu, in the heart of Transylvania, reflected in a particularly powerful water filtration and treatment system, has won the national stage of one of the most important competitions in the world dedicated to innovation with social impact, Chivas The Venture, and will represent Romania at the world stage which will be held in Los Angeles in July this year. Prizes awarded by the company which owns the famous whiskey brand are worth one million dollars. Vote to get this project funded HERE.

The first project created in Transylvania by Khar and Partners was a hydroponic farm, founded in the village of Cristian, Sibiu County. “Such farms can be very good solutions for food production in areas not suitable for agriculture. Romania is not the case, but we wanted to show here that such a project is viable”, says Khaled al Mezayen, the company founder. The economic data show that, indeed, hydroponics can produce the food of the future. The hydroponic farm from Cristian produces every day, on an area of ​​only 160 square meters, a ton of forage grass, ideal for animal feed. Naturally, such a quantity of grass should be harvested daily over an area of ​​70,000 square meters. The project of building hydroponic farms could be developed internationally in 2018. The forage grass from the farm in Cristian is entirely organic. Hydroponic farms can be used not only to produce food for animals, but also to produce fruit and vegetables for human consumption.

While developing this project, Khaled al Mezayen’s team faced a challenge: finding a very efficient water filtering system used in hydroponics. The response was the creation of a stand-alone filtering system. And at that time, i.e. in 2013, Khaled al Mezayen decided to invite his former boss, Pierre Huet, the to join him and become partner in Khar and Partners.

 

The team led by Khaled al Mezayen has succeeded in developing one of the most advanced filtering systems in the world. This system was named SOWAT, acronym for System Open Water Advanced Technology. This system has four filtering stages which turn polluted or infected water into drinking water. In the first step, large particles, such as sand, for example, which are found in the water, are removed.

In the second stage, the bacteria are removed by polarisation with a filter made of recycled glass. The third filter is made of activated carbon, and the water already cleaned through successive steps passes through a fourth filter, developed in partnership with a company from France. This filter is so powerful that it stops particles of diameter above 10 nanometres. At this stage, viruses are also removed, which have, as a rule, a maximum diameter of 20 nanometres. Thus, the filter manages to remove pollen, organic pollutants or mineral colloids. Minerals dissolved in water are the only ones that remain.

“We do not use any chemicals. It’s pure physics. We use the principles of mechanics to filter the water”, said Khaled al Mezayen. In designing the filtering system, the team led by Khaled al Mezayen heeded his desire that such systems be mobile and easy to carry, in order to be available for those who are forced to live in conflict areas or in refugee camps, where access to drinking water is a big problem. Thus, SOWAT ended up in weighing only 250 kg and be a plug-and-play system. That is, it must be connected to a source of electricity, the polluted water is extracted with a hose and then the system supplies drinking water. The consumption of electricity is equivalent to that produced by a 60 W bulb. The filtration capacity ranges between 20 and 100 cubic meters of water a day, which means that it covers the drinking water requirement for communities between 500 and 5,000 people.

The price of such a system varies between EUR 17,000 and 25,000 depending on the filtering capacity. Currently, such systems are built on the Cluj company’s platform Energom, and the Consul of France in Cluj-Napoca, Pascal Fesneau, is one of the board members.

For now, the production capacity is 10 such machines per month, but Khaled al Mezayen wants to double the production capacity in early 2018. There is already a huge interest for such devices as filters are very heavy-duty and must be replaced only every 10 years and the costs are very low. Basically, it is a cost of 20 cents per month for the drinking water necessary for one person.

This system was tested for the first time in Sibiu. Khaled al Mezayen and his colleagues extracted water from the Cibin River, which they filtered and drank it. They offered samples for analysis to the representatives of the Public Health Department of Sibiu County. “They were amazed to see that water can be so clean without chlorination”, says the young entrepreneur.

The first SOWAT systems have already been installed in several small communities in Sibiu and Mureș Counties, but the company Khar and Partners has orders from countries like Morocco, Jordan and Madagascar. Khaled al Mezayen’s dream is that these filtration systems reach the Middle East in the refugee camps. He saw such camps in Syria. Moreover, his partner, Pierre Huet, worked for Doctors Without Borders in Cambodia.

Khaled al Mezayen says that water scarcity is a major problem in conflict areas. Refugee camps are usually supplied with water using tankers, and any delay of a tanker risks causing a genuine tragedy. An adult is in danger of death if deprived of water for three days, and things are even worse for children, because statistics show that diarrhoea caused by polluted water is the second cause of infant mortality. Therefore, SOWAT mobile system may be the best solution for water supply of these communities.

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