Design Proposal

Here is our entire design proposal that was submitted to Lemelson-MIT InvenTeams. This proposal identifies who we are, what our goals are, and how we expect to achieve these goals.

Our focus for the MIT InvenTeam project is the innovation and improvement of the bio-sand filter; simplifying the maintenance methods, as well as improving their heavy-metal filtration. One of the major setbacks of the bio-sand filter is that the current method of maintaining and cleaning the sand is tedious and gruelingly long. In addition, bio-sand filtration is not able to remove a substantial amount of heavy-metals in comparison to its ability to filter nearly all biological contaminants. This project will focus on solving both of these problems in a way that will be both affordable and user-friendly.  This project will be extremely feasible, as we are already beginning work by doing research, creating partnerships, and creating prototypes.  We believe we will be able to create a quality product that will improve upon previous designs.

This invention will be valuable to under-developed countries, such as those in Africa, with poor water qualities, by reducing the amount of biological contaminants and improving the health of the general society. The bio-sand filter will be able to filter out heavy-metals in areas with high concentrations of toxins such as arsenic and lead. We are currently in contact with Mercy in Action, as well as a few other clean-water focused non-profits in America, as possible global partners. We also plan to partner with local veterinarians and Colorado Springs Utilities for water testing.

Our team consists of a diverse population of students representing different cultures such as Caucasian, Korean, Hispanic, African-American, and Apache. The team is a fairly accurate representation of the school’s demographics, and a third of the population is represented by females. Our team also has students of varying grade levels and is comprised primarily of sophomores, juniors, and seniors.  We also have a wide range of socio-economic levels represented with free and reduced lunch participants.

To start the process, as well as add validity to our current understanding of the filter’s drawbacks, we have contacted a previous MIT InvenTeam who conducted a similar project to ours in the past, the Bio-Ausable team located in northern New York state and Canada.  The BioAusable team has agreed to be our team mentor.  We will continue their research on creating a filter based on a vacuum system that encourages the growth of aerobic bacteria to help aid in the water purification.  Through our conversations we have found that they struggled to find solutions to issues relating to washing the sand, maintenance of the filter, filtering heavy-metals, and filtering other chemical toxins.  We plan to address these issues as the main focus of our research.  We also plan to do significant research on the culture and needs of the countries we choose to focus on, and will work with our community partners to get as much accurate information as possible. Then, we plan to go through the design process and create prototypes in order to study how the system works and its possible flaws.

Groups we have assigned are accounting, liaison, media, design and drafting, fabrication, testing, writing, and art. The fabrication team will focus on the creating and refining the overall design. The testing team will focus on the ways to improve the way the filter works as well as determining its flaws. Our drafting team will be responsible for the initial creation of the prototype in Autodesk Inventor. Our liaison will be primarily responsible for contacting different aid organizations and various non-profit organizations that focus on water purification all over the world.  Their goal will be to create partnerships that will allow us to scale our ideas and provide an avenue to utilize our design to provide clean water to those in need.  The accounting team will be primarily responsible for keeping track of the finances and making sure all of the expenditures and assets are accounted for.  They will also be responsible to make sure the project does not go over budget, and they will seek out additional funding as needed. Finally, our media team will be keeping track of the progress of the project by maintaining blogs and producing videos in order to better document our progress. We have several people under each category. Many people are under multiple categories and are flexible in their roles as demand changes.

Resources that may be needed would include materials such as sand, gravel, buckets and PVC pipes in order to create the actual biosand filters. Tooling and modeling software (Autodesk inventor) will be needed for the fabrication and design of the filter. Water testing kits, dirty water, testing facilities and labs for official water sample reports will be needed for the testing of the filter to confirm the filters effectiveness. Information regarding the water quality and culture of the society of countries we are targeting will be necessary to effectively integrate into the target culture.

Overall, our bio-sand filter would be an extremely valuable asset to those in need of pure water, especially those drinking surface water in 3rd world countries. If used, they will provide an efficient way to filter water and prevent various disease and malnutrition related issues.  The effectiveness of previous filters has been successful in creating fairly clean water; however, they are lacking in their user-friendliness in regards to filter maintenance, as well as their filtering capabilities related to non-biological contaminants. We hope to be able to improve and expand on the work they have already done.

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