Successful test with new clean water technology Tanzania

12 Jul 2016

In many areas of Tanzania the natural high concentration of fluoride in water sources cause teeth to color brown and other health problems. Therefore, the removal of fluoride is one of the main objectives. In partnership TNO developed a new technology on solar heat, which was tested in Tanzania last months. The results are encouraging.
Sun2Water pilot in Tanzania

High Quality, Low Cost

Last year our project partners rehabilitated water schemes in 2 villages in the Mara region and established the  enterprise Bomba Maji, that serves the water to customers with a sustainable business model. The water contain high levels of fluoride and next step is to desalinate the water. Requirement is to apply an high quality but low cost system, affordable for people with lowest incomes. TNO, Aqua-Aero Water Systems and i3 Technologies developed a new kind of water purification system at house hold level using Membrane Distillation by sun heating. With this water purification system the removal of contaminations, salts and bacteria is possible for both surface- and groundwater sources.

Applicable in local context

In the village Robanda near the Serengeti park live between 3000 and 4000 people. Most people have a cattle or small plantations on which they grow crops like corn. In the past people tried to grow larger plantations. However, a lot of these plantations were destroyed by the elephants. Within the village you will find some trade in milk, local produced alcoholic drinks, food, drinks and even water. People having a cattle sell sometimes animals in Mugumu a larger city about 40 km from Robanda. From Mugumu they import most goods like rice, corn, oil, fuel etc. Most houses are built from self-made brinks from the soil and roofs from corrugated plates. The water supply consists of a pump station and water tank on a hill. Maintenance of this water supply is now done by Bomba Maji.


The small scale application of this membrane distillation technology looks like an inflatable mattress. It works without electricity and works fully on sun heating. The purification system consists of two barrels, a solar collector with a special membrane inside and an outlet bottle for the desalinated water. The water which has to be treated flows through the solar collector and is heated by the sun. When the heated water passes the membrane part of the water will evaporate and will pass through the membrane becoming desalinated water. The part of the water which will not evaporate will be warm water which can be used as showering water.

Successful test

In the month April and May 2016 three of these new treatment systems were built and installed in Robanda by i3 Technologies. A student from the Delft University of  Technology, Michiel Bongaerts, stayed for a month in Robanda to study the performances of the purification systems. From these results it is clear that the systems were producing desalinated water. The groundwater having a conductivity of circa 800 microSiemens is reduced to clean water of around 10 microSiemens. This indicates that most solute particles are removed from the water such as fluoride. Also productions rates were obtained above 1 liter per hour for a treatments system having a membrane surface of circa 0.55 square meters. The daily production of this treatment system is circa 10 liters a day operating in Tanzania, Robanda, under sunny conditions. Although, some problems were encountered during the pilot the results are promising. The pilot gave insight in performances and initial problems of the current design. These insights can now be used to develop an improved design to improve sustainability and performances. We hope this water treatment system will be in the future available for people all around the world lacking fresh and clean drinking water.

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Drs. Mathilde Miedema

  • Developing countries
  • Development Cooperation
  • Africa
  • Bangladesh
  • Inclusive Business

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