The journey continues for four Arizona State University students on the entrepreneurial team, SafeSIPP, as they make significant advances in their water transportation and purification system. The team successfully built their second prototype this summer including a barrel made of 80 percent recycled materials, and the new component, a filtration system that integrates into the barrel.
SafeSIPP is a start-up that began in the Engineering Projects in Community Service (EPICS) program at ASU in the fall of 2011. The goal of their project is to “significantly improve the health and wellness of rural African villages, while improving their quality of life,” explains SafeSIPP team leader, Lindsay Fleming.
The team‘s first step in achieving this goal is to design, build and manufacture inexpensive and sustainable water filtration systems that can also be used by villagers to transport large volumes of water over the several miles dividing villages from local water sources.
Fleming, like her two teammates, Jared Schoepf and Taylor Barker, is a chemical engineering senior at the School for Engineering of Matter, Transport and Energy, one of the Ira A. Fulton Schools of Engineering. Fourth team member, Jake Arredondo, is a senior majoring in marketing and supply chain at the W.P. Carey School of Business.
“The new filter uses a three-step process,” explains Schoepf. When attached to the 30-gallon barrel, it first removes debris such as rocks and sticks, followed by another segment that kills off any harmful bacteria or viruses. The final component of the filtering system is a polishing filter to remove metals and other compounds that cause bad taste.
Schoepf, the main designer for the filter attachment, explains that it is exciting for the team, “We have a fully functioning prototype which we can now aggressively test.” These tests include efficiency and durability tests as well as durability runs.
“We still need to run the filter through third-party laboratory testing to confirm the efficiency of the system,” says Fleming. The team will then perform durability testing. As Schoepf explains, “We want to ensure that the barrel can withstand at least 500 miles of travel. We are planning on going for hikes through rough terrain, and dragging the barrel behind a car.”
The SafeSIPP team expects to have the testing completed in the next few months, and they will then begin to work closely with their mentor, Warren Te Brugge from the nonprofit organization My Arms Wide Open. Te Brugge is helping connect SafeSIPP with a rural village in South Africa where he believes their project could have a positive impact.
They will work with Te Brugge to arrange travel and field-testing of the prototype. They are hopeful that a date may be scheduled within the next year.
SafeSIPP was recently selected as part of the 2012-2013 Edson Student Entrepreneur Initiative cohort at ASU. They will receive funding to support their venture, as well as office space at SkySong business-park and mentorship over the next year.
SafeSIPP was one of 20 groups selected to receive the award out of 340 student teams that applied in the spring of 2012. The Edson program will help SafeSIPP transform their idea into a true business over the next year. “We are very grateful, honored and humbled to be a part of it,” says Fleming.
The Edson program, now in its eighth year, is one of the largest privately funded, business plan university competitions in the U.S. It is funded by a 5.4 million dollar investment in the ASU Foundation by Orin Edson.
SafeSIPP is continuing to compete in innovation and entrepreneurial competitions. This month is the final round of the 10,000 Solutions competition, where all finalists, including SafeSIPP, will attend a symposium to hear the winner announced. The winner of the 10,000 solutions challenge will receive $10,000 to support their project.