HEART visits factory in Guatemala
In 2002, John and Michelle White visited their first filter factory in Guatemala. The story all begins with a visit to Families for the Americas, an organization formed by Mercedes Arzu Wilson. Her daughter Dominique began the filter project because of the dire need for pure water. We were immediately interested and traveled to the Lake Atitlan region to tour the filter factory.
To our surprise, it was very small in comparison to what we would call a "factory" in the US. The factory was less than 1000 square feet and was outdoors under a covered roof. The ceramic filter was so simple and so effective that we thought it should be all around the world. Sadly, there are only about 40 ceramic filter factories in the world. This number does not even begin to address the world problem.
Build a Ceramic Filter
There are many steps and pieces of equipment to making a ceramic filter. Below are three examples at a filter factory in Nicaragua, operating under the direction of Potters for Peace.
Filters on Racks
Filters dry for one week before firing in the kiln. Once the filters are fired they are returned to the rack to cool down before they are coated with colodial silver.
Outdoor kiln at potter's studio
Many potters become employed by a filter factory. Workers are local which helps families earn more income.
Workers prepare equipment.
Documents About Filter Factories
Filters on Racks
Explains how the filter works, how it is made, and compares how it performs against other filtering methods.
Equipment for Factory
Pictures and descriptions of the major equipment needed in a factory.
Ceramic Water Filter
Summaries of reports and studies of the Ceramic Water Purifier: A Colloidal Silver Impregnated Ceramic Water Filter.
Potters for Peace
SEE VIDEO In 2008, John and Michelle visited Potters for Peace in Nicaragua to distribute water filters the local families and to see how the factories operate. Here is Potter's for Peace story.
After Hurricane Mitch in October of 1998, the rural water supply of Nicaragua was largely contaminated. This prompted Potters for Peace to begin a Ceramic Water Filter production workshop near Managua using a design developed by a Guatemalan industrial engineer, Fernando Mazariegos.
In the first six months over 5000 filters were distributed through non-governmental organizations. The workshop, called Filtron, is now incorporated as a privately owned business
Potters for Peace has since provided consultation and training in setting up production facilities around the world: Guatemala, Honduras, Mexico, Cambodia, Bangladesh, Ghana, El Salvador, the Darfur region of Sudan and Myanmar, (Burma).
Tens of thousands of filters have been distributed worldwide by organizations such as International Federation of the Red Cross and Red Crescent, Doctors Without Borders, UNICEF, Plan International, Project Concern International, Oxfam and USAID
Potters for Peace has relied on partner health organizations to provide appropriate training and education about filter use. We have financed and or assisted in laboratory testing and field studies of the filter with institutions such as MIT, Tulane University and the University of Colorado.
“The PFP filter is simple in design, easy for families to use, and performs exceptionally well in laboratory tests” (Investigations of the Potters for Peace Colloidal Silver Impregnated Ceramic Filter, Report 1, Alethia Environmental). The filters remove bacteria including E.coli and Vibrio cholera as well as Giardia and Cryptosporidium. Research underway at the University of North Carolina indicates that with small additions of iron oxide the filter can effectively remove viruses as well.
With proper cleaning, maintenance and monitoring this filter technology can provide potable water for rural families that draw their water from surface-influenced, contaminated sources such as springs, rivers, wells, or standing surface water.
The filter element is an approximately 11” wide by 10” deep open-top clay cylinder which after firing is coated with colloidal silver, a well known microbicide which remains in the filter for years. The rate of filtration is determined by the mixture of combustible material, sawdust or rice husks, which is added to the clay before firing. The fired, treated filter is then placed in a plastic or ceramic receptacle with a lid and faucet. Filter units are sold to individuals or NGOs for a wholesale price of about $10-15 with a basic plastic receptacle, more expensive clay. (These are prices from 2000. Prices also vary from country to country based on the economy and wages set for that country. )