Inventor: Francesca O’Hanlon & Rebecca Donaldson, Blue Tap
Mentor: Dr. Ian Willis
Blue Tap is a social enterprise founded by Cambridge University students which aims to deliver safe drinking water to families all over the world.
Their initial technology provides chlorine dosing technology designed to be used in decentralised water systems. Chlorine is one of the most affordable and effective methods of water treatment. However existing commercial solutions are expensive and difficult to maintain.
Blue Tap has developed a lower cost chlorine dosing system, enabling village-level water treatment facilities to supply safe drinking water in an affordable and sustainable way. This is currently being piloted in community water systems in Kenya, through Blue Tap’s partners who provide decentralised water services, most of whom are NGOs.
Based on customer feedback, Blue Tap have discovered that their partners are also interested in knowing exactly how much chlorine is in the water so that they can report to regulators and feel confident in the potability of the water.
As a result of this market research, BlueTap are now working on an additional, separate technology, which will allow real-time monitoring of how much chlorine goes into the water and how much remains in the resultant drinking water. This is not always a linear relationship because it depends on what contaminants are present – if there are more bacteria then more chlorine will be used to kill them. The key aspect is to ensure that some residual chlorine remains in the fully-treated water because that provides evidence that all the bacteria have been killed.
Commercial residual chlorine sensors cost around £800 each, which is too expensive for BlueTap’s customers. In the same way that they have already reduced the cost of chlorine dosing, BlueTap are working to reduce the cost of chlorine sensing.
The question for the i-Team is to investigate how useful an additional chlorine-monitoring service would be and what its value would be to the organisations providing water and sanitation services, so that BlueTap can ensure that their resulting product will be financially viable.