19 March 2009

Susan Murcott ~ Pure Home Water & MIT H20-1B

We were really pleased to have Susan Murcott from MIT's Civil & Environmental Engineering Department join us in our SP.713 Social Entrepreneurship seminar tonight. Susan's a passionate pioneer of off-grid clean water solutions for the over 1 Billion people worldwide who drink water contaminated with especially biological and chemical impurities -- i.e. microbes and poisons. She runs the H20-1B Water & Sanitation projects at MIT and teaches a class on that theme as well as 11.953/SP.723 D-Lab III: Disseminating Innovations for the Common Good with Professor Alice Amsden. Susan also collaborated for years with the wonderful Professor Don Harleman, champion of inexpensive wastewater treatment technologies (and who with his wife Martha were my next door neighbors for years). For this past decade, Susan's been working in rural and underserved urban communities on technologies to clean water -- to go beyond "improving" water (in UN parlance) to actually making it safer to consume. In Nepal, treatments included arsenic chemical removal. More recently in Ghana, the core challenge is removing particulates as well as coliform and microbial contaminants. Especially interesting about this most recent work in Ghana is Pure Home Water, the social enterprise she co-founded which concentrates on commercializing a Nicaraguan innovation -- clay pot filters for water. Susan's experiences serve as a live-case study, a compelling learning lens to help our students appreciate both the troubles and triumphs of starting and building a development venture. Check out this one of her several TechTV videos...

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