Challenges for water disinfection research in developing regions

2 March 2012, 1.00 PM - 2 March 2012, 1.00 PM

1.11 Lecture Room, Merchant Venturers Building, University Gate, Bristol, BS8 1UB
Kevin McGuigan picture

Kevin McGuigan

In this presentation, Dr McGuigan shared his research experiences in the field of Solar Disinfection (SODIS) of drinking water with particular application in the developing world.

View the presentation from this event and learn more about his work. (PDF, 3,016kB)

This was a great talk by Dr Kevin McGuigan who presented a simple technology - using empty Coca Cola bottles to disinfect water by placing them in direct sunlight and letting solar UV kill disease causing pathogens. His research has had amazing results globally and his solar disinfection method is now used by over 4.5 million people in over 55 countries around the world.

Cabot Institute
He described how the work began as a purely laboratory based project involving hard sciences such as Physics, Chemistry and Microbiology but has evolved over the past 20 years into a programme of multidisciplinary research encompassing medicine, behavioural, psychology, sociology, economics and ethics in addition to photocatalysis and nanotechnology.

With several field studies of SODIS either running or completed in Africa (Uganda, Kenya, S. Africa, Zimbabwe) and S. E. Asia (Cambodia) Dr McGuigan showed how the journey from laboratory bench-top to developing world roof-top is never straight forward but always interesting.

Using examples learned the hard-way he showed how the transfer of affordable technologies from the lab to the field often relies more on basic economics than elegant science.

By examining his successes and failures he showed how arriving at a scientific solution to a problem is usually only the first small step down the long and winding road to user-adoption of a workable and useful technology.

Further information

Dr Kevin McGuigan PhD (DCU 1989), BSc (NUIM 1985), FInstP is a Senior Lecturer in the RCSI Dept. of Physiology & Medical Physics.  He teaches on the Medicine, Pharmacy and Physiotherapy programmes and is the director of the RCSI Solar Disinfection Research Group which develops appropriate technology interventions against waterborne disease in developing countries such as Uganda, Kenya, Zimbabwe, S. Africa and Cambodia funded by the EU and the Irish government.  Kevin is a Fellow of the Institute of Physics, has supervised to completion 6 PhD and 3 MSc projects and has published over 50 refereed articles in peer-reviewed journals.  He is the Chairman of the Institute of Physics of Ireland (March 2011-March 2013).  

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