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 Makewater.org?

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 soaps etc don't. Heavy metals do tend to coagulate easily like arsenic and lead.

Ryan Beltrán12:13 PM
@Dan Maloney yeah and our nonprofit elequa wants to send out kits for free through donations so we lower the barrier to particiapte

Vije Miller12:14 PM
Microplastics are a hot topic, has there been interest in focusing on this and have you studied the effectiveness of this process on microplastics?

Ryan Beltrán12:14 PM
Also we like that it introduces arduinos to students who can use them for other projects

Ryan Beltrán12:14 PM
Here is the current build page

Ryan Beltrán12:14 PM



Water Coagulator Kit - Current Build

Our mission is to empower students who want to make a difference in this world by giving them the tools to tackle real-world water issues collaboratively. The program and curriculum is entirely free and we are crowd sourcing funds to give away kits to teams that need them all over the world.

Read this on Hackaday

Ryan Beltrán12:15 PM
@Vije Miller we have not yet tested it on microplastics. If I had to guess I don't think it would work well but who knows! Since I don't directly do testing what I do is I have a challenge list. So testing on microplastics would be a challenge we add and try and connect student teams with these challenges during our season.

Erin RobotGrrl12:15 PM
Has there been any surprising uses (ie, not according to the original design use) with your kit yet? :)

Erin RobotGrrl12:16 PM
Oh that's interesting about the challenges! How many have been solved so far? How many groups are there currently?

Neil K. Sheridan12:16 PM
@Ryan Beltrán I just found a paper using EC for microbeads! https://pubs.acs.org/doi/pdf/10.1021/acsomega.7b02037

My guess is that it would depend on the chemistry of the plastic. I'll bet there are plastics with the right groups exposed and they'd be precipitable

Ryan Beltrán12:17 PM
@Erin RobotGrrl well one team last year wanted to test recouping hydrogen from the process (electrocoagulation is basically electrolysis) and use it in a hydrgen fuel cell. I thought this was awesome! They found it didn't work well because the hydrogen was dirty. It was a great way to learn something new.

Ryan Beltrán12:18 PM
They were sad it didnt work but they won for the year because they embraced that it didn't go to plan and they shared why it didn't so in the future people know that.

Ryan Beltrán12:18 PM
@Erin RobotGrrl also challenges havent always completely been solved. usually they end up somewhere they can pass the baton for future teams to continue the challenge. So more like incremental.

Neil K. Sheridan12:18 PM
wow yes that was kinda awesome!

Ryan Beltrán12:19 PM
@Neil K. Sheridan Nice! I will save that.

Fail early, fail often. It's how you learn which paths not to go down.

Ryan Beltrán12:20 PM
@Dan Maloney yeah. I think it also has to do alot with the charge of the ions of the material you want to coagulate. So perhaps it could work. How best to test? Where to find microplastics?

Vije Miller12:21 PM
"Where to find microplastics?" Step 1 Grab cup Step 2 Fill cup with ocean. Sigh, this is sadly true.

Ryan Beltrán12:21 PM
@Vije Miller hahah awww sad. Yes.

Nicolas Tremblay12:22 PM
"fill cup with ocean", that's a mighty big cup

Neil K. Sheridan12:22 PM
I'm not sure how you would measure concentration of microplastics in given sample! But I'm sure someone has worked it out!

Ryan Beltrán12:23 PM
So the program is open to not just students and educators but anyone interested in taking on a challenge! We also want to find mentors who know more about coding and arduinos and hardware to help!

Vije Miller12:23 PM
Some thing I had focused on a few years ago and would love to return to is flotation devices that use your method. Have you found that agitation of the water decreases or increases efficiency?

I think you can centrifuge the microplastics out.

Ryan Beltrán12:23 PM
@Vije Miller I believe agitation does help. One team of students put the water on top of a cellphone and tested vibration and efficiency last year!

Neil K. Sheridan12:25 PM
@Dan Maloney I think there is density floatation - so dense polymers would float..

Ryan Beltrán12:25 PM
So not only do challenges tackle water purification but challenges are set to help evolve the kits to add sensors and methods for logging data.

marktrezz joined  the room.12:26 PM

marktrezz12:27 PM
Does electrocoagulation work to lower the FOG content (fat, oil, grease) ?

Ryan Beltrán12:28 PM
@marktrezz I believe it does work on greases yes. How it compares to other methods I do not know.

marktrezz12:30 PM
How much space would be needed to make an electrocoagulation setup to handle 6300 gallons per hour ? We work with slaughterhouse that goes through that much water (about 100,000 gallons per day) and they need to clean up the output back to the city.

Vije Miller12:30 PM
Salt versus fresh water - is there a significant different in effect between the two

Vije Miller12:30 PM

Neil K. Sheridan12:31 PM
@marktrezz crikey I think this is just small-scale project vs. scaling up to that!

Ryan Beltrán12:31 PM
@marktrezz this is beyond my knowledge I'm sorry! If you want to make initial tests you can build the kit we have on our project page. https://hackaday.io/project/165346-water-coagulator-kit-current-build . There are commercial electrocoagulation businesses out there who might help on a quote.

Vije Miller12:32 PM
@marktrezz a really big sponge and a lady who rings it out really fast.

Ryan Beltrán12:32 PM
@Vije Miller We haven't done alot with salt water. We have tested and salt would coagulate but it would just keep coming out! I remember the salt never stopped precipitating. It was just a test or two so nothing super deep.

Nicolas Tremblay12:34 PM
So you need salt to help with the electrolysis, but too much and it's the salt that gets precipitated out?

Ryan Beltrán12:34 PM
Too much and it ruins the water I believe.

Nicolas Tremblay12:35 PM
No clear

Ryan Beltrán12:35 PM
This is the first year we are adding a tiny amount of salt to increase conductivity for initial tests for new people who test the kit. Because electrocoagulation doesn't work well in low conductivity environments.

Nicolas Tremblay12:35 PM
not clear

Ryan Beltrán12:36 PM
Also an awesome added benefit is that if we can find the right balance adding salt does create chlorine which can be used as a disinfectant in water.

Ryan Beltrán12:36 PM
So that's two reasons why we are starting to experiment with salt.

Nicolas Tremblay12:36 PM
A bit like pool salt

Vije Miller12:36 PM
I have to step out and just wanted to say thx to @Ryan Beltrán for answering my questions and keep up the good work.

Ryan Beltrán12:36 PM
I thought the initial question was meant for desalination or ocean water which is really high in salinity.

Ryan Beltrán12:36 PM
@Vije Miller Thanks ! great chatting!

Thanks for stopping by @vijilij

Oops @Vije Miller

Ryan Beltrán12:39 PM
@Dan Maloney I bet you see alot of water related DIY projects. Any that you suggest I check out? We are always looking to share more of that and collaborate with others when possible.

Ryan Beltrán12:40 PM
The question is to anyone really!


Neil K. Sheridan12:40 PM
@Ryan Beltrán I added you on twitter.. so will let you know of any I find!

Ryan Beltrán12:41 PM
Thank you! It's a hard on the spot question. Please send me them as you see them or you think of them!

Nicolas Tremblay12:41 PM
I mostly check at the other end of the spectrum, hydro electricity.

Off hand, most of what I've seen have been sensor-based projects - level of water in tanks, sensing spills, etc. Think I saw a desalinization project once - I'll look for it.

Ryan Beltrán12:42 PM
Cool thanks!

Ryan Beltrán12:42 PM
@Nicolas Tremblay Interesting! Like ocean waves too?



Results for purification | Hackaday.io

Read this on Hackaday



Vacuum Water Purification

Clean water is #2 on the Millennium Project's list of 15 global challenges. (Other challenges include climate change, and population & resource allocation.) Clean water faces two challenges: first, many people live in costal environments, but only have access to saline water. Second, people in many noncostal areas have been driving local water tables deeper through overutilization.

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Clean water for Africa

Using a combination of traditional water filtration methods, as well as generating purifying ozone via a solar source, water from just about any source can be turned into potable water for use in cleaning, cooking and drinking. In Africa, especially, there are more than 350 million people, and over 750 million people around the world, with no access to clean water.

Read this on Hackaday

Erin RobotGrrl12:44 PM
There was that project from Supercon last year shaped like a clam shell and it could take readings or something, then ascend to the top with a chemical reaction process

Neil K. Sheridan12:44 PM
Could be useful for rainwater harvest treatment I think, or greywater reuse esp in off-grid communities.

Nicolas Tremblay12:45 PM
No, mostly systems working with the current of a river. Non disturbing to the eco system.

Ryan Beltrán12:47 PM
@Neil K. Sheridan I think it could It has come up before. Just takes that someone to take on that challenge.

Ryan Beltrán12:47 PM
@Dan Maloney thanks I will save those

Erin RobotGrrl12:48 PM
@Ryan Beltrán Thank you for the hack chat! Interesting project :) thanks for sharing!

has the ferrofluid research been noted in this discussion?

Neil K. Sheridan12:49 PM
@Ryan Beltrán well I certainly learned something new today! Thanks for sharing your project! I do especially like the STEM education element, and how the people who learn about it can help advance the tech!

Ryan Beltrán12:49 PM
@Erin RobotGrrl Thank you for the great questions!

Ryan Beltrán12:50 PM
@YOUR NAME I haven't worked with that yet. I did see the google science fair winner does that with microplastics

Ryan Beltrán12:52 PM
Well thanks everyone! I need to feed the baby now! I appreciate the questions.

Ryan Beltrán12:53 PM