Water Quality, Biochar, charcoal, filtration, water filter, Haiti, water


Environmental Health and Protection | Water Resource Management


Peter Wampler


Our research set out to determine if biochar, a compound made by burning organic plant matter in a low oxygen environment, would be a suitable means of removing E. coli populations from contaminated water collected from the Grand River in Allendale, MI using simple materials to construct a filter that could be constructed and used in Haiti. Previous research has shown biochar to be effective at trapping bacteria and other contaminants in the porous surface and by binding other non organic contaminants. We constructed multiple iterations of these filters using gravel, sand, and biochar and ran three live tests with different amounts of biochar and filtration procedures. Water collected after passing through filters was tested using the IDEXX method to determine bacterial counts. Our research showed that the biochar was in fact effective at removing E. coli in significant amounts, and that the amount of biochar present in the filter appears to be the most significant factor, as the filter with the most biochar present in it removed 100% of E. coli from our sample. Future research would be needed to determine an exact method of constructing a filter fit for Haitian communities that could be easily understood and constructed. However, this preliminary experiment has provided excellent groundwork and information regarding the efficacy of biochar for removing bacteria and making water cleaner.