The Design Committee focuses on creating technology that promotes sustainability through the following facets: environmental, health, energy, and social organization. Committee members are passionate about research and development and be willing to put several hours a week in lab and design time. Likewise, members are encouraged to pursue new projects, seek advice from faculty and mentors, and continue to explore opportunities to broaden EWB’s reach through new technologies.
Students from the Design committee have spent the past few months constructing a slow sand water filter designed to purify clean water to make it potable. Such filters may be used in communities across the globe without access to safe drinking water since they require only basic materials and do not involve access to electricity. Slow sand filters function because a biofilm composed of bacteria develops in the top of the filter after several weeks, trapping harmful bacteria, fungi, etc. previously present in the water. The filter assembled by the Design committee was displayed on Penn’s campus to raise awareness to the student body.
Over the past year, students from the Design committee have researched and evaluated methods of converting oils to biodiesel, an energy source that can be used as an alternative to traditional fueling materials. Through a relatively simple laboratory procedure, students have produced biodiesel from purchased vegetable oil and have tested the purity of the product. The next steps include creating biodiesel from waste oil obtained from local restaurants and finding productive uses of the biodiesel on Penn’s campus.