Dr. Hilonga & the Nanofilter

Our partner Dr. Askwar Hilonga is an award-winning chemical engineer from Tanzania. He grew up in a small, rural village, without any access to clean drinking water. Waterborne diseases were omnipresent in his childhood. Many community members fought against the crucial consequences of contaminated water. These circumstances are not acceptable for Dr. Hilonga.

As a result, he developed the irrepressible desire to eliminate the water crisis. He specialized and receiver his doctorate in Nanomaterials. At the same time, he started to work on an innovative, low-cost water filtration system. Since then, the so-called Nanofilter received a lot of attention and has already changed many people’s lives.

“I want to be a millionaire. Not in terms of money, but in terms of millions of people I am impacting every day!” and “What does my PhD mean, what does all the fame mean, if I can’t use it to solve challenges for my people?” are just two of his quotes, which represent Dr. Hilonga’s drive and spirit.

The Nanofilter

The Nanofilter is an innovative water filtration system, which perfectly suites the usage in rural communities in Africa. As a consequence, Dr. Hilonga has already received eight national and international awards for the Nanofilter. One of these awards is the prestigious “Africa Prize for Engineering Innovation” of the Royal Academy of Engineering from the UK.

After extensive testing, the verdict of the jury was stunning. The jury chairman Malcom Brinded to the BBC News: “This innovation could change the lives of many Africans and people from all over the world”. The Nanofilter is already changing many lives in Tanzania.

Contaminated water is cleaned in three steps. First, a slow sand filter removes bacteria, viruses and other harmful microorganisms. Next, the toxin Fluoride, which is widespread in Tanzania is extracted. In the third phase a nanomembrane removes heavy metals, pesticides and other contaminants.

A unique feature of the Nanofilter is the ability to adapt the system to the local contamination. Since water sources in Tanzania contain different pollutants, calibrating the filter is extremely important. Before the filter is introduced to a community, Dr. Hilonga’s team test the local source. After testing and calibrating the filter, excellent water quality can be guaranteed.

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