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Ashok Gadgil, UV Waterworks Water Purifier Inventor
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UV Waterworks apparatus

UV Waterworks apparatus

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A woman carrying a bundle of firewood on her head
A woman carrying a bundle of firewood on her head

Indian villagers and their UV Waterworks unit
Indian villagers and their UV Waterworks unit

The Work of Ashok Gadgil

In 1993 a violent cholera outbreak in India focused Gadgil’s attention on waterborne diseases.

A longtime researcher into solar energy, energy efficiency, and indoor air pollution, Gadgil knew of three possible methods of water disinfection--boiling, chlorination, and exposure to a special range of ultraviolet (UV) light. He focused on UV light as the best solution.

Gadgil envisioned a device that was portable, low-cost, low-maintenance, and energy-efficient. The UV Waterworks unit he developed uses less electricity than a table lamp and can be powered by a car battery, a bicycle generator, wind, or even solar cells.

People pump or pour water into the unit Gadgil developed. As the water flows through the enclosed shallow pan, an overhead UV light kills any bacteria, viruses, or molds in the water.

“The engineering design was actually a product of the constraints and criteria we had to work with. First, based on my experience in India, I knew that the unit must handle [water collected from] surface sources such as lakes, ponds, and streams using buckets or pots. Then, too, I knew that the treatment had to be very quick. People are simply not going to wait around if it takes 15 minutes to disinfect their water.”

The UV Waterworks unit can disinfect four gallons of water per minute--enough to provide safe drinking water for up to 1,500 people per day.

The UV Waterworks unit has won awards from Discover and Popular Science magazines.

Gadgil continues to work on other environmental projects. He’s collaborating with UNICEF engineers in integrating the water-disinfecting unit with a hand pump. And he’s assisting in the development of a low-impact energy plant in Brazil.

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