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Partnerships for enhanced engagement in research (PEER) SCIENCE
Cycle 2 (2012 Deadline)

Development and field testing of high performance aluminium oxide-based technologies for fluoride removal in the Ethiopian Rift Valley

PI: Feleke Beshah (Addis Ababa University)
U.S. Partner: David Sabatini (University of Oklahoma)
Project Dates: August 2013 to January 2016

Ethiopia Partnership Picture 1

The Ethiopian research team at Addis Ababa University (Photo courtesy Dr. Beshah).
The available technologies used for removing fluoride from water such as reverse osmosis, activated alumina, and synthetic resins are difficult to implement in Ethiopia due to their high cost, the need for skilled manpower for system operation and maintenance, and the challenges of ensuring a continuous supply chain for the required chemicals and materials. Relatively simple and low-cost technologies such as the Nalgonda technique and bone char have been tried in Ethiopia, but they have proven inefficient under the prevailing water quality conditions. The objective of this study is to develop, characterize, and evaluate the effectiveness and sustainability of innovative high-capacity aluminum oxide-based materials, composite oxides, and impregnated high surface area adsorbent based technologies for fluoride removal in rural villages of Ethiopia. The project will also look at socioeconomic and entrepreneurial aspects to find ways to make the technologies sustainable in the Ethiopian context. Besides laboratory-based synthesis and characterization of adsorbents, the project will include preliminary field testing of the new materials, as well as assessment of socioeconomic and social entrepreneurship factors and presentation of findings in workshops and training sessions.
According to a recent estimate of the Ethiopian Ministry of Water and Energy, more than 11 million people in Ethiopia are at risk of high fluoride in drinking water in the Rift Valley region. More than 80% of children in the country suffer various degrees of dental fluorosis, and skeletal fluorosis is increasing among adults and the elderly. Thus, there is a pressing need for low-cost, high-capacity, and sustainable water treatment technologies for fluoride removal. For these technologies to be sustainable, they must be efficient, locally available, economically and socially viable, and simple to operate and maintain. While motivated by challenges in rural villages of Ethiopia, the results of this project will also benefit those living in rural communities of other East African countries impacted by fluoride. This project also has an important goal of capacity and human resource development for fluorosis mitigation in Ethiopia. The participation of the Ministry of Water Engineering and relevant NGOs will help to consolidate ties between research and implementation. The results will be disseminated to the scientific community through publications in reviewed journals, and a national workshop is planned to communicate the results to various stakeholders involved.

Summary of Recent Activities
In the third quarter, the team worked on the preparation and characterization of high capacity layered double hydroxides and calcined layered double hydroxides for the removal and other anions in drinking water.
Because of high anion exchange capacity of LDH and CLDH, practical use of these materials for fluoride removal in batch and continuous experiments WAS studied and adsorption capacity of 11.7 mmol F/g was achieved. The presence of carbonate in solution showed a significant decrease in fluoride removal of CLDH. Complete removal of PO43- and SO42- followed by NO3- was observed by using CLDH.. This material could be used in the ground water that contained less carbonate content however, it needs post treatment to lower the high pH and remove the release of aluminum in the filtered water. Manuscript is under preparation for publication on the Journal of Water Research.
The Ministry of Science and Technology of Ethiopia is going to conduct the 6th National Science, Technology and Innovation award ceremony. The ceremony will takes place in Addis Ababa African union commission on November 14, 2015. As winner of the 2nd National Science Award, the team is invited to display the materials and technologies that they are developing as part of the PEER grant the exhibition during the award ceremony event. 

The national Workshop is scheduled on December 20-21, 2015. The workshop theme is titled  "Scale up of Water De-fluoridation Technologies IN ETHIOPIA: Prospects and Challenges". At least 60 participants from universities, water sector organizations, multilateral Organizations and Non-government organizations will participate on the workshop.

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