Sustainable drinking water: Supplying energy efficient drinking water for rural communities in Nicaragua

We got the chance to travel to the land of lakes and volcanoes Nicaragua for our bachelor thesis.

First of all we would like to thank the Marc van Eekeren reisfonds, Doris van Halem, Bayardo Gonzalez Rodriguez, Luuk Rietveld and everybody who helped us in Nicaragua.

Project description:
Communities on the Telica volcano have access to water from a local aquifer. The water from this aquifer is contaminated with arsenic. To remove the arsenic from the water a nano filtration membrane can be used, however this requires energy. Our goal was to find a way to produce energy for this purpose using the thermal energy provided by the volcanic activity.

Our goal was to build a prototype and provide proof of concept.

We brought a few parts for the prototype from the Netherlands, but most had to be found in Nicaragua. With the help of a local, who showed us the hardware shops and the enormous markets where one can buy seemingly anything, we found what we needed in a matter of days. After working on the theoretical part and building the prototype the first test showed that our chosen materials were incompatible. Since there was little time to obtain different materials, we decided to shift our focus to developing a computer model which will calculate energy output of the system for various materials used, and various temperature differences. 

The experience of working in a third world country was something that we will never forget. We learned a lot of skills during our project, of which the most can’t be learned through the normal study system. Also the experience of working with someone in a kind of isolation was new for us, but as stated above we managed to finish our thesis and had a great time during our project.

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