The Lindbergh Foundation Believes that Innovative Science and Technology Hold the Key to Addressing Humanity’s Environmental and Productivity Challenges

Peter Girguis

Dr. Peter Girguis

“Using Low-Cost Microbial Fuel Cell Technology to Remove Arsenic from Drinking Water in Rural China

Category: Water, Waste

Arsenic is a naturally occurring, highly toxic element. Many are familiar with arsenic’s toxicity, as it is featured in many great works of art and literature. However, fewer realize that over 250 million people around the world are drinking arsenic-contaminated water. In Asia, in particular China, over 65 million people are facing arsenic toxicity, which leads to neurological damage and even death.  Methods for decontaminating arsenic-laden drinking water exist, but they are costly, inefficient and short-lived systems that require frequent servicing.

Dr. Girguis is developing a technology that uses energy derived from biomass to remove arsenic from drinking water at a high rate and low cost. The proposed research is collaboration between the Girguis lab at Harvard University in the U.S., and the Yuan lab at Tianjin University in China. The resulting technology will be “open source”, meaning it will be widely disseminated with the intention of fostering rapid commercialization by local enterprises around the world.  To date, there are few examples of U.S.-Chinese collaborations to address environmental issues that affect poor, rural populations. He hopes this effort will serve as an example of how cutting-edge technologies can be brought to bear on the most critical issues in the rural and developing world.

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