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Project Haiti

Project Haiti at Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University is a movement of students designing and installing solar-powered community water systems.

The Haiti earthquake occurred in Port-Au-Prince on January 12th, 2010. As engineers, the way Embry-Riddle was most able to respond to this humanitarian crisis was by providing clean, safe drinking water. We have installed community water systems in Haiti over several summer trips:
  • In Summer 2010 Embry-Riddle students delivered a 1 gallon-per-minute (gpm) water purifier powered entirely from the sun.  The 2010 trip report is availalbe as a pdf or as a Facebook album. It was a valuable success for over 150 college student volunteers who traveled to Haiti that summer to help the disaster relief effort.  The Nehemiah Vision Ministries camp upgraded to a 10gpm unit for greater capacity.
  • In Summer 2011, our team of students designed and installed a 4gpm unit powered entirely from the sun. We installed it at the Anne Clemande Children's Foundation in Chambellan, Haiti.  They operate a children's home and school with approximately 600 children and staff.  They had no access to clean drinking water.  The 2011 trip report is availale as a pdf or as a Facebook album.
  • In Summer 2012, our team of Embry-Riddle students delivered a community water system providing 14gpm of clean, safe water to an Internally Displaced People (IDP) camp named Onaville   The purifier is in daily operation delivering roughly 15,000 gallons per day.  Onaville was the largest tent city in Haiti during post-earthquake Haiti.  This is our most successful trip from a partnership standpoint, a purifier standpoint, and also an academic standpoint. Students received credit during a summer course titled ME595 Practicum in Water PurificationThe 2012 trip report in pdf form is here. or as a Facebook album. We generated a blog in 2012 as well.
  • The Summer 2013 unit was installed in Michaud, Haiti at the Ryan Epps Home for Children. Michaud is a suburb of Port-Au-Prince. This is a 14gpm unit powered entirely by the sun which means nearly zero recurring cost to operate the unit. This is ideal for starting a sustainable micro-business. This system combined with the micro-business provides clean, safe drinking water and also create jobs, generate recurring income, and improve community health. The 2013 trip report is available as a pdf for download or as a Facebook album here.
  • The Summer 2014 unit was installed at Dayspring Mission in Croix de Boquets, a suburb of Port Au Prince, Haiti. The unit delivers 10 gallons per minute and provides 5-gallon bottles to three retail sites. This wholesale business model represents our greatest business success to-date. The 2014 poster shows basic highlights.
  • In Summer 2015 we delivered a similar membrane filter design to World Renewal International based in Gonaives, Haiti. This system provided 10gpm of clean water but soon after installation the well suffered from saltwater intrusion. The following February, our installation partner delivered our first Reverse Osmosis (RO) system to make the brackish well water drinkable. The 2015 trip presentation highlights the design, installation, training, and water quality testing.
  • The Summer 2016 trip provided an increased capacity Reverse Osmosis (RO) system to our 2015 partner in Gonaives Haiti. They are currently operating the most sophisticated retail water selling business to-date with 3 full-time employees and multiple distribution sites.
  • During Summer 2017, the team installed an off-grid Reverse Osmosis (RO) system in the Artibonite Valley which is North-Western Haiti. This was the heart of the Cholera break out in October of 2010. This was our most challenging source water to purify because of high sediment content coming directly from the Artibonite River. The 2017 presentation slides describe the rural setting where a retail micro-business is still operating today.

Academic integration:
  • Our 2012 EPA P3 Entry was a Portable Solar Water Purification Backpack for Disaster Releief. It won the $90k EPA Phase II award, the US Army's NetZero Water Award, and the Student's Choice Award at the 2012 National Sustainable Design Expo

  • Two water courses have been developed loosely based on Project Haiti:
    • ME595J, Practicum in Water Purification is a lab based, hands-on course that provides students with practical experience in testing for water-borne pathogens, water purification methods, and solar power systems
    • HON350, Emerging Trends in Global Water Supply and Demand is a humanities survey course raising awareness of water as the new high-value commodity. This course highlights the major issues in the water-energy nexus, water-food nexus, and water-climate nexus.

  • Publications:
    • Kain, G., Hunt, R., Noto, J., Prine, J., Brown, C., Compere, M., "Off-Grid Solar Powered Water Purification and Community Development in Haiti's Artibonite Valley, the Heart of Haiti's Cholera Epidemic", 2017 IEEE Global Humanitarian Technology Conference (GHTC), San Diego CA

    • Pinto, S., Wong, Y., Fennesy, K., Tang, Y., Compere, M., "Design and Commissioning of a Community Scale Solar Powered Membrane-Based Water Purification System in Haiti", J. Humanitarian Engineering, v.4, no. 1, 2016

    • Wong, Y., Pinto, S., Tang, Y., Compere, M., "Community Development through a Sustainable Micro Business Selling Clean Water", GHTC-2014-60, IEEE Global Humanitarian Technology Conference, Oct. 10-13, 2014, San Jose CA

    • Wong, Y., Compere, M., Tang, Y., Fennesy, K., Camp, J., Pinto, S., "Project Haiti 2012: Providing an Experiential Learning Experience Through the Design and Delivery of a Water Purifier in Haiti", ASEE SouthEastern Section Conference, Tennessee Technological University, Cookeville, TN, March 10-12, 2013

    • Tang, Y., Compere, M., Wong, Y., Coleman, J., Selkirk, M., “High Tech High Touch: Lessons Learned from Project Haiti 2011”, AC 2012-5500, 2012 ASEE Conference and Exposition, San Antonio TX, June 2012

More up-to-date information can be found on our Project Haiti Facebook page.

Embry-Riddle accepts financial donations that are are tax deductible and go directly to the water purifier's construction or student travel costs.

created : 12 Feb 2013
modified: 07 Nov 2017

Marc Compere,
Feb 13, 2013, 3:35 PM
Marc Compere,
Feb 13, 2013, 3:35 PM
Marc Compere,
Feb 13, 2013, 3:17 PM
Marc Compere,
Nov 7, 2017, 1:55 PM