03/30/2012 00:01
Bezalel design student believes water purification projects could help solve clean water shortage issues across the globe.
Bossmat Eliezer’s modern take on the biosand filte By Oded Antman

Equipping children with the hands-on ability to easily assemble a natural water filtration unit with their own raw materials could help solve clean water shortage issues in the most remote corners of the world, in the eyes of a Bezalel design student.

Bossmat Eliezer, a third-year student at the Bezalel Academy of Art and Design, has designed a two-pronged, plastic, aquarium-like module that houses various layers of sand, gravel and healthy bacteria to naturally purify water. The system is her modern take on the “biosand filter,” a water filtration system that has been used in rural areas for the past two hundred years.

“The idea came up to do something for children – actually try to teach them how to purify the water for themselves,” she told The Jerusalem Post on Thursday.

Eliezer’s design will be featured along with many other similarly oriented inventions in an exhibition called “Seer Layla,” an exposition of industrial design and visual media taking place at the Shafdan (the Dan Region Wastewater Treatment Plant) next week in Rishon Lezion. Organized by Igudan: The Dan Regional Association for Environmental Infrastructure, the exhibition will begin on April 1 and continue through Hol Hamoed Passover.

The projects, which are various artistic interpretations of water purification and transport mechanisms, aim to be socially conscious, entertaining and effective, according to Igudan. The artists responsible for the projects are leading design students from all around the country, hailing from institutions such as the Department of Industrial Design at Bezalel, the Department of Industrial Design at Shenkar College of Engineering and Design, the Department of Visual Communication at the WIZO Academic Center in Haifa, the Avni Institute of Art and Design and the Department of Industrial Design and Visual Communication at Tel Aviv University.

Accompanying Eliezer’s plastic module is a guidebook for children that explains exactly how to assemble such a natural filtration device, which she believes is more crucial than the device itself.

She said that this way, people can replicate the device whenever they need it using resources found in nature. In fact, in rural areas of Afghanistan, residents already conduct the biosand process by building their own receptacles out of plastic containers, she added.

Eliezer first designed her product last year, during a course that focused on coping with the aftermath of natural disasters, for which she chose to work on water issues. While the original target of her device is more rural, remote places like African villages, Eliezer said she thinks the system could be beneficial to Israeli children as well.

“I’m not sure that my project is the answer, but it was a way of thinking how you can give the knowledge to educate the next generation,” she said.

Another of the projects featured in the exhibition will be that of Bar Moran, also a Bezalel student, which involves a water carrier for families and small communities in disaster- ridden areas – also a product of last year’s class.

“I was thinking that one of the biggest problems when something like this happens is in the water,” she told the Post on Thursday.

Many third world areas that suffer from earthquakes and other natural disasters do not have proper water treatment facilities, she explained.

Her device, the “Roll-It,” is a wheelbarrow-like module with a bright blue handle, which carries up to 50 liters of water and is capable of filtering the water during transport. Therefore, whenever a villager might come across some water sources – even if it happens to be a polluted lake – they can use a vacuum pipe from within the Roll-It to suck in an ample supply of water for filtration. Even if the water supply happens to be clean, the Roll-It can still act as a water transportation device, Moran added.

“After the water is not polluted anymore they can use it to carry water from place to place,” she said.

While Moran’s ultimate wish would be for a global health organization to adopt an idea like hers and propagate it among poor, remote areas, she acknowledged that in reality, “it’s just a concept and most of the time it’s going in the back drawer.” However, she said, “we have the hopes.”