Learning Lab Adds Water Purification

Left to Right: Learning Lab Project Engineer Keith Hanley, along with Cincinnati Chapter Engineers Without Borders members and volunteers Tim Galieti, Gordon Miller and Sarah Hunt.

The Sisters of Notre Dame de Namur Learning Lab in Cincinnati is moving into Phase Two of its mission to assist in the provision of electricity and clean water to the Sisters’ Africa missions, schools and hospitals while building the science, technology, engineering and mathematics skills (STEM skills) of students in the United States.

Phase Two, with a goal of water purification, will build on the lab’s first phase of developing electrical power generation through photovoltaic systems, power which will in turn be used to clean water.

According to Keith Hanley, Learning Lab lead engineer, two steel water treatment modules are now under fabrication with delivery to the lab scheduled for spring. The first module will serve as an intake and will strain raw unpurified water, with the second module then filtering the water for potability. Piping for the modules and the larger system is also under fabrication.

“This will allow students to run experiments in water treatment similar to the systems we have in Africa,” says Hanley, “and to test various filters.”

The treatment modules are being developed in conjunction with the Cincinnati chapter of Engineers without Borders, which includes universities in the Greater Cincinnati area.

The premise of the five-year-old Learning Lab is to test or pre-flight technologies for electricity generation and water treatment, and combinations of these technologies, taking into account African conditions related to climate, affordability, staffing, supplies chains, water contaminants, etc. Based on these tests, conducted by students on a small scale, strategies and technologies can be employed (or not employed) on a much larger scale in the Sisters’ African ministries.

To date, students of Mount Notre Dame High School in Cincinnati and Chaminade Julienne Catholic High School in Dayton have participated in the Learning Lab’s operations.

Published in the Cross Currents Magazine, Spring 2022 Volume 18 Issue 1, by the Sisters of Notre Dame de Namur Ohio Province