ON C AMPUS
Clean Water Acts
INE CHEMICAL ENGINEERING students are assisting in the fight to bring clean water to people around the world by developing a water filtration system. In March, they presented the effectiveness of the Sustainable Aqua Filtration Equipment (SAFE) project in March to Peter Kimeu, regional technical director for partnership, solidarity and justice for Catholic Relief Services (CRS) in East Africa. With CRS having a presence in more than 90 countries, the SAFE project could bring clean water and improve the sanitation and health of people around the world. “We can provide underdeveloped countries with drinkable water, and that is something that everyone deserves to have,” said Alex Bertuccio, a senior chemical engineering major, as he and Anna-Maria Montalto, a junior chemical engineering major, demonstrated SAFE to Kimeu. The SAFE system, which runs on gravity, removes 99.99 percent of dirt and germs and is a collaboration of research conducted by James Patrick Abulencia, Ph.D., assistant professor of chemical engineering, and Gennaro J. Maffia, Ph.D., professor of chemical engineering. Maffia has used collagen nanofibrils for years in biomedical engineering applications, as well as to trap contaminants in water. The collagen comes from the dermis of livestock and is processed into nanofibrils. The system was beta-tested in the Iloilo province in the Philippines and received glowing reviews from the locals. In addition, Abulencia developed a way to work with coconut shells as a viable alternative for granulated activated carbon (GAC), which is also used to adsorb contaminants from water and eliminate any residual undesirable odors and color from the purified water. By combining their efforts, the SAFE project evolved naturally in the College’s chemical engineering department. “I am going to be very proactive in making sure that this technology ends up in Kenya, and we see how we can make what you have discovered here a reality back home for the good of the people,” Kimeu said to the chemical engineering students (Bertuccio; Montalto; Natalie Lapp ’12; David Moretti ’12; Shannon O’Brien, a chemical engineering graduate student; Justin Sierpinski ’12; Enrique Sola, a chemical engineering graduate student who graduated in December; Michael Sullivan ’12; and Karen Tschinkel ’11). “I think the demonstration of this water filtration system is one of the most inspiring demonstrations I have seen in along time,” added Sister Arlene Flaherty, OP, justice and peace partnership liaison for CRS NE Mid Atlantic Region, who accompanied Kimeu during his trip. “Students in engineering actually bringing their skills and their care about people in developing countries together into a way that creates a system that will really make a difference in people’s lives.” The students analyzing and testing the SAFE system also exhibited the unit at the Waste-Management Education & Research Consortium (WERC) competition, an international students’ competition, in New Mexico in April. 10 2011
(Clockwise): David Moretti ’12, Gennaro J. Maffia, Ph.D., professor of chemical engineering, Natalie Lapp ’12 and Justin Sierpinski ’12 demonstrate the Sustainable Aqua Filtration Equipment (SAFE) project on campus in March.
CRS and the College: Partners in Service Created in 1943, Catholic Relief Services (CRS) is the official international humanitarian agency in the U.S. Catholic community. CRS works in more than 100 countries around the world to provide lifesaving relief in the wake of natural and man-made disasters and to help the poor and vulnerable to improve their lives. The Manhattan College partnership with CRS began in 2006, when Lois Harr, director of campus ministry and social action, crossed paths with Sister Arlene Flaherty OP, CRS university regional representative. This relationship grew over time as the campus became involved with CRS issues, such as fair trade and various programs on L.O.V.E. trips. Manhattan has been established as a “collaborating college,” and is represented at various conferences around the country today.
Published on Dec 3, 2011
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