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Technoscience

Potable water for the tribe

NPA

Equipment tested by a native community in the state of AmazonasNPA

A solar-powered portable device that can disinfect up to 400 liters of water at a time was developed by Roland Ernest Vetter, a researcher at the National Institute for Amazonian Research (Inpa), to meet the needs of riverside dwellers and indigenous tribes that do not have access to potable water or electricity. The Água Box (“water box”) uses ultraviolet radiation to remove bacteria and other microorganisms from the water. In late October, the technology was transferred to Hightech Componentes, which expects to put the product on the market within two years. The system consists of a solar power input port, a 12 volt battery, a reactor, and a tube that envelops the UV light, which has a useful life of up to 10,000 hours. The whole thing can fit into a small aluminum briefcase. Water collected from streams, rivers and lakes is first directed to a water reservoir with a coarse filter that removes particulate matter. The Água Box filters the water and makes it safe to drink. The device weighs only 15 kilograms (about 33 pounds), making it ideal for transport into remote places. It was tested by five indigenous communities near the Juruá River, in the state of Amazonas, and the Água Box was shown to be effective, practical, and inexpensive. The project was triggered by a request by the Morada Nova tribe filed with Inpa in 2007. The community needed a solution for treating its drinking water, which was highly contaminated and was a major cause of disease.

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