Water Filter Exhibition

Purifying Water Through Pottery
by Kenny Ryan

 

The University of Dallas hosted a traveling art exhibit Potable Art in 2008. The exhibit consisted of a collection of pottery from students, professors and artists around the county and serves as a work of art and a source of clean water.

The idea behind the show is that a group of ceramic artists developed a very simple point-of-use ceramic water purification system. The pottery goes to areas around the nation and the world where potable water isn't in supply.

The number one killer of children world-wide is diarrhea caused by unsanitary drinking water. An organization known as "Potters for Peace" is working to spread this ceramic technology around the globe to save lives.

"Manny Hernandes at Northern Illinois University is the technical mastermind behind creating the kilns, which we use to fire the filters, and the press used to create the pottery," said Steven Carpenter, associate professor of art and education and visual culture at Texas A & M. "[He also helped] with some of the technology in the application of silver to make it work."

The water-filtering pottery is created by mixing together clay, sawdust and colloidal silver. When the pottery is fired in the kiln the sawdust burns out. This leaves microscopic holes which are too small for bacteria to fit through without being killed by the colloidal silver.

"Silver is a natural bactericide which has been used for years to clean water," Catherine Hastedt said. " It can still be found purifying water on airplanes today."

"They teach the local potters and attempt to create a filter press,"  Hastedt said. "As long as you have clay,  you can press six an hour, the whole thing costs $8 to $15 per filter. Each filter is capable of producing a liter of clean water every one or two hours, water which is over 99 percent pure."

Some of the art from the traveling exhibit is up for sale. The money will be used to spread the pottery technology to communities who need it.

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