Trinity Researchers Develop Innovative Water Disinfection System

Posted on: 31 January 2012

Researchers from Trinity College Dublin’s School of Engineering have developed a new solar powered water disinfection system which could revolutionise the supply of clean, safe water in developing countries.  The solar disinfection unit, which has been piloted in the remote Kenyan village of Ndulyani, is a low cost, low maintenance system which requires only energy from sunlight to run. 

The system has been developed under the supervision of Dr Laurence Gill in the Department of Civil, Structural and Environmental Engineering, along with PhD research student Joanne MacMahon.  The method of using solar UV to disinfect water for human consumption is a technology that has been tested by different research students in Trinity College Dublin and has been proved to work against a variety of micro-organisms which cause diseases such as dysentery, cholera, typhoid etc. The basic principle of the system involves water flowing through a transparent pipe at the focal point of a compound parabolic reflector, optimally angled beneath the pipe for maximum sunlight capture. The system is designed such that the water flows under gravity, requiring no additional energy source, primarily for use in small-scale rural situations. 

YouTube clip

Donations for the Solar Water Disinfection project can be made online via 

Up until recently the system supplied safe drinking water for approximately 600 people in the Kenyan village before a wide scale drought in the region caused the village’s water source to dry up.  The current lack of water means that the solar disinfection unit can no longer be used forcing the villagers to make a 14km round trip on foot to collect water.  In order to provide the villagers with an alternative source of water the Trinity researchers are trying to raise funds to drill a borehole to tap the water table which will allow the solar disinfection system to be used again, giving the people in Ndulyani access to a reliable water source.