Clean Water Technologies Hack Chat

Education through water innovation

Wednesday, September 4, 2019 12:00 pm PDT Local time zone:
Hack Chat
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Ryan Beltrán, founder of, will host the Hack Chat on September 4, 2019.

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Access to clean water is something that's all too easy to take for granted. When the tap is turned and water that won't kill you when you drink it flows, we generally stop worrying about it. But for millions around the world, getting clean water is a daily struggle, with disease and death often being the penalty for drinking from a compromised source. 

Thankfully, a wide range of water technologies is available to help secure access to clean water. Most are expensive, though, especially at the scale needed to supply even a small village. Seeing a need to think smaller, Ryan started, a non-profit program that seeks to give anyone the power to make clean water through electrocoagulation, or the use of electric charge to precipitate contaminants from water. 

There's more to MakeWater than electrocoagulation kits, though. By partnering with STEM students and their teachers, MakeWater seeks to crowdsource improvements to the technology, incorporating design changes that work in the next version of the kit. They also hope to inspire students to develop the skills they need to tackle real-world problems and make a difference in the lives of millions.

Join us on Wednesday, September 9 for the Hack Chat, and come with questions for Ryan about water technologies in general, electrocoagulation in particular, and what's involved with running a non-profit that puts both technology and education front and center.

  • Hack Chat Transcript, Part 1

    Dan Maloney09/04/2019 at 19:56 0 comments

    Hey everyone, let's get started. Let's all welcome @Ryan Beltrán to the Hack Chat today. We're going to discuss clean water tech and using STEM to maximize its impact.

    Ryan, can you get us going with a little bit about yourself and

    Neil K. Sheridan12:00 PM
    Welcome @Ryan Beltrán !

    Ryan Beltrán12:01 PM
    Thank you @Dan Maloney ! Hi everyone!

    Ryan Beltrán12:01 PM
    So I really got interested in electrocoagulation years ago.

    Ryan Beltrán12:02 PM
    And I read up on studies saying it had water treatment potential but there was alot of research that still needed to be done.

    Ryan Beltrán12:02 PM
    I connected with a local makerspace and an electrical engineer that taught me about open source and arduinos etc and we started making small batch testing prototypes to test on different water.

    Ryan Beltrán12:03 PM
    People would reach out asking me if it worked on different types of water and I had no idea! So I wanted to get to a point where I could say here build a kit and find out yourself but please share what you find.

    Ryan Beltrán12:04 PM
    We connected with a water utility education department and we put these prototypes in schools and students really liked tinkering and self teaching about how it all worked.

    Ryan Beltrán12:05 PM


    Ryan Beltrán12:05 PM
    Check out that video for a quick idea on how the MakeWater program works.

    Ryan Beltrán12:07 PM
    So I'm not a professional anything when it comes to water. I've just been following my passion for what the tech can do and trying to share about it and trying to crowdsource research.

    Neil K. Sheridan12:08 PM
    ooh sounds very interesting especially with the STEM bit of getting the kids etc involved!

    So is electrocoagulation used on big-scale water treatment projects? Are there commercial treatment plants that use it?

    Ryan Beltrán12:08 PM
    Yeah! That is sorta overshadowing the tech itself now. I realized how it can be a vehicle for self teaching.

    Vije Miller12:09 PM
    Have you found a density limitation - say for how dense the debris is in the water before the effectiveness of the process is belayed?

    Erin RobotGrrl12:09 PM
    What's it like treading the line between real-world solution and the educational aspect? Is it difficult to convince people that it's "real" if they see it being used in classrooms?

    Ryan Beltrán12:09 PM
    @Dan Maloney Yes electrocoagulation is used in large scale waste water processes. With some stipulation that it uses to much energy but I believe it needs more research to find more efficiency.

    Ryan Beltrán12:10 PM
    @Dan Maloney We do not have plans to make it for a large commercial project. We want to focus on small batch use open source and research and help ignite others to make their own large scale uses for the tech in an open source way.

    Vije Miller12:10 PM
    Are there materials (debris) that seems more resistant to the process than others?

    Neil K. Sheridan12:11 PM
    Well it's good because all the people that learn about it can help iterate the tech in the future!

    Ryan Beltrán12:11 PM
    @Erin RobotGrrl Good question. I feel like more of a connector than a convincer at the moment. I like that the kits and curriculum tend to speak for themselves.

    Ryan Beltrán12:12 PM
    @Erin RobotGrrl we do alot of connecting real world with classrooms byt people who engage with the program and alot of come to us via hackaday. For instance a Bolivian group want to use it to teach about water education but also experiment with students on local water.

    Erin RobotGrrl12:12 PM

    I would think STEM teachers are probably grateful for an alternative to robots and rockets for their kids.

    Ryan Beltrán12:13 PM
    @Vije Miller so far yeah there are some things that don't coagulate as easy as others. I think like...

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Ryan Beltrán wrote 08/28/2019 at 17:43 point

I look forward to the chat! Here is our current hackaday project -

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