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Engineering to empower: BYU capstone project helps provide clean water to Pakistan

A BYU engineering student checks on the filtered water after cleaning it through a new water filtration device at the duck pond south of campus in Provo on Feb. 8.

A BYU engineering student checks on the filtered water after cleaning it through a new water filtration device at the duck pond south of campus in Provo on Feb. 8. (Jaren Wilkey, Brigham Young University)



Estimated read time: 2-3 minutes

PROVO — BYU engineering students have designed an affordable water filtration device to help provide clean water in Pakistan, which has long been plagued by illnesses from unclean water.

Roughly 30% of diseases in Pakistan are the direct result of poor water quality, according to the National Library of Medicine, and a group of BYU engineering students decided to use their expertise and resources to help.

The BYU team created a device that takes water through both microfiltration and ultrafiltration using affordable materials.

A BYU engineering student fills up a glass of filtered water after cleaning it through new water filtration device at the duck pond south of campus in Provo on Feb. 8.
A BYU engineering student fills up a glass of filtered water after cleaning it through new water filtration device at the duck pond south of campus in Provo on Feb. 8. (Photo: Jaren Wilkey, Brigham Young University)

Capstone coach Corry Cloward told BYU News that the system can filter down to .02 microns, which is a small enough measurement to remove bacteria like E. Coli, pathogens that cause waterborne illnesses and viruses.

After multiple rounds of building the device the engineering capstone students at BYU tested the filtration system earlier this year in the school's botany pond south of campus.

"We set the device up at the edge of the pond, ran the tube down into the water and turned on the pump. When water came out of the filter for the first time, we were thrilled. It was as clear as glacier water," BYU engineering team member Bethany Parkinson said.

The filtered water sample returned no harmful bacteria compared to the original pond water.

Elder Peter F. Meurs, lead manager of the project, said that while in communication with government leaders of Pakistan they found the No. 1 issue they needed help with was water purification.

Two BYU engineering students check on the filtered water after cleaning it through their new device at the duck pond south of campus in Provo on Feb. 8.
Two BYU engineering students check on the filtered water after cleaning it through their new device at the duck pond south of campus in Provo on Feb. 8. (Photo: Jaren Wilkey, Brigham Young University)

"In talking to government leaders about the highest humanitarian priorities, leader after leader identified clean water as a very significant priority for the country," said Elder Meurs, whose professional background is in engineering.

Elder Meurs, a General Authority Seventy of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints currently serving in the Asia Area Presidency, has already been able to order 15 water treatment devices which are being placed immediately in various communities in Pakistan.

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Madison Selcho

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