Identification and evaluation of techniques for quality control of low-cost xylem filters
Author(s)Arkhurst, Bettina K
Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Department of Mechanical Engineering.
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2.1 billion people worldwide, majority of whom are of the poorest income quintile, lack access to safe, readily available water in their homes. The need for affordable, decentralized methods of water filtration led to the development of a low-cost membrane filter produced from the xylem of coniferous trees. Due to xylem structure variation and the potential for improper filter processing during mass production, quality control protocols are a necessity. Manufacturers must ensure xylem filters are functional in terms of microbial rejection and adequate flow rates. Testing methods similar to those mentioned in this thesis can also be developed for other membrane filters. The suitability of two fluids, water and air, were evaluated for use in the quality control process. For testing using water, turmeric and blue dye were used to create a visual indication test to detect a filter's major failures. We found that this method has the potential to detect both leaks and improperly prepared filters, but it lacks affordable, quantitative analysis for determining rejection percentages. Air was found to be a viable option for xylem filter testing at pressures of 6 psi and above, though presence of the xylem lowered the concentration of particles detected at the outlet by one-fourth. The substances found to be most suitable for testing the filter were Baker's yeast, jeweler's rouge, turmeric, and buttermilk given their affordability, particle/microbe size, and availability. Further exploration is required to determine the optimal particle to use in water and air testing and the equipment necessary for the quality control process to be implemented.
Thesis: S.B., Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Department of Mechanical Engineering, 2018.Cataloged from PDF version of thesis.Includes bibliographical references (pages 49-51).
DepartmentMassachusetts Institute of Technology. Department of Mechanical Engineering
Massachusetts Institute of Technology