P07402: UV-Tube Water Disinfection Project


Table of Contents

UV-Tube Water Disinfection Project

The mission of this student team is to redesign and further develop a series of point-of-use Ultraviolet (UV) water disinfection devices suitable for use in rural areas of developing nations where other water treatment methods cannot be applied because of their cost, inconvenience, limited availability, or energy requirements. The focus is on South American countries (particularly Venezuela) where safe water and power may not be available. The intent is to enhance a proven concept and make it easier to manufacture, easier to service, more robust in operation, compatible with a variety of regionally available power sources, and more environmentally benign. The team's focus was on the design and manufacture of the device, with less emphasis placed on verification of the disinfection technology.

Project Background

The need for Water

public/getting water.jpg
In the United States people take clean drinking water for granted, yet the populations of many regions lack access to basic sanitary needs, including safe water. One of every six people in the world (1.1 billion people) does not have access to an improved drinking water source, and even when there are treated water distribution systems, the water is often contaminated by the time it reaches its point of use. The lack of this basic necessity dramatically affects the health, education, life expectancy, and social development of much of the world. Especially at risk are children; dehydration from diarrhea is the leading cause of death in children under the age of five, and it claims the lives of 5000 children every day. In addition to deaths, children suffer from malnutrition and other water-borne illnesses.

UV Disinfection

UV disinfection is a process that inactivates pathogens in the water by exposing them to radiation from ultraviolet light. Ultraviolet light consists of UVA, UVB, and UVC light, which occur at different wavelengths. In sunlight, UVC is almost entirely filtered out by the atmosphere, and it is this range that shows germicidal effectiveness. The ultraviolet light penetrates the cell walls of the organisms and disrupts the cell's genetic material, thus making it impossible for the organisms to reproduce. This makes the water safe for consumption.

UV Tube History

The UV Tube project dates back to the early 1990s when Dr. Ashok Gadgil (Senior Staff Scientist at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory) developed a high-capacity, low-cost system to be implemented in hospitals, clinics, and communities, called UV Waterworks. While working in the Patzcuaro region of Mexico, Dr. Lloyd Connelly of UC Berkeley saw a need for a lower capacity, simplified household system, and that project has since been known as the "UV Tube." There have been several different design iterations of the UV Tube. It was first made from a four-inch PVC pipe, and since has been PVC lined with stainless steel or just stainless steel tubes, as well as ferro-cement and clay troughs. The UV Tube has also been field-tested in Mexico, Haiti, and Sri Lanka. Most of the emphasis in these past projects has been placed on verifying the germicidal effectiveness of the design and the bulb, and not as much on the mechanical design or construction methods.

(Photots Courtesy of Sarah Brownell)

Team Documents

Roles and Responsibilities Matrix (open in Excel)

Project Schedule, MS Project file (last update 3/16/07)

Project Schedule, pdf (last update 3/16/07)

Project Budget (open in Excel, last update 3/22/07)

Product Development Process

This outline follows the general product development process presented in the textbook "Product Design and Development" by Ulrich and Eppinger, and the which was followed by the design team.


A Project Readiness Package has been prepared prior to the launch of this project. This PRP is intended to help get the team started with a first draft needs assessment and work breakdown structure.

One-Page Project Summary

Customer Needs and Specifications

Identify Customer Needs

Establish Target Specifications

Concept Development

Generate Product Concepts

Select Product Concept(s)

Test Product Concept(s)

A Concept Review presentation was given on January 19, 2007 outlining the project work done to this point.

Initial Design

The design process was iterative, where the team first developed an Inital Design. This was presented at the first technical design review on February 16, 2007, but was updated several times throughout the design process based on information gained through engineering analysis, prototyping, and testing.

Detail Design

Eventually, the team arrived at the Updated Design.

Engineering Analysis

Several types of Engineering Analysis were performed on this design to ensure its effectiveness prior to the prototype phases. This analysis includes a UV irradiance model, flow rate justification, life cycle assessment, design for assembly, and solar system sizing calculations.

Prototype Construction

Several prototypes were constructed to test certain building procedures and design features, as well as to be used for formal testing. There was a first generation and second generation prototype, along with another which was used for assembly testing.

Final prototype pictures

Testing and Refinement

Product Testing

Project Reviews

A Senior Design I Project Review presentation was given on February 23, 2007, outlining what the team had accomplished during the first quarter of Senior Design, and describing the design at a high level as it stood at that point.

A Prototype Review was conducted on May 4, 2007 to demonstrate the functionality of the prototype and recap testing results.

A Senior Design II Project Review presentation was given by the team at the completion of Senior Design II and the entire project on May 18, 2007.

[Save all files and open using MS PowerPoint.]

Final Team Documents

Project Poster

Project Conference Paper

Device Manual - English - construction, use, maintenance, and repair.

Device Manual - Spanish

Team Members

The team consists of seven KGCOE students from different disciplines.
600 px
Student Team Member Discipline email
Anna Murray ME zutana@gmail.com
Micah Brewer ME breww21@hotmail.com
Greg Hupp ME ghupp31@yahoo.com
Rob Norquest ME rdn5792@rit.edu
Miguel Bazan ISE mab8096@rit.edu
Manaal Eisa ISE MLClass@aol.com
Brendan Richard EE bmr9541@rit.edu
Faculty Members Role Email
Dr. Jim Taylor Team Guide jbteie@rit.edu
Dr. Andres Carrano Customer/Faculty Consultant alceie@rit.edu
Dr. Brian Thorn Customer/Faculty Consultant bkteie@rit.edu
Dr. Rob Stevens Faculty Consultant rjseme@rit.edu


These three sites describe the work done by the Renewable and Energy Appropriate Laboratory at UC Berkely to design a UV-Tube water treatment system:

The UV Tube as an Appropriate Water Disinfection Technology

Assessment of a Low-Cost, Point-of-Use, Ultraviolet Water Disinfection Technology

Guidelines for drinking-water quality From World Health Organization

UV Disinfection Fact Sheet National Drinking Water Clearinghouse Tech Brief: A National Drinking Water Clearinghouse Factsheet, Ultraviolet Disinfection


The team would like to extend many thanks to their faculty guide, Dr. Jim Taylor, as well as project sponsors Dr. Andres Carrano and Dr. Brian Thorn of the RIT ISE Department for their guidance and support. Additional thanks go to Sarah Brownell for sharing her experience and knowledge about the UV Tube, and for inspiring the project. Thanks to Dr. Jeffrey Lodge, Mr. Robert Easton, and Mrs. Maureen Valentine for their assistance in various water testing procedures, and to Dr. Robert Stevens for his help throughout the project, specifically with solar system expertise. Finally, thanks to Marilyn Houck for her support and patience with many trips to Home Depot.