Electro-chemical arsenic remediation: Field trials in West Bengal
Millions of people in rural South Asia are exposed to high levels of arsenic through groundwater used for drinking. Many deployed arsenic remediation technologies quickly fail because they are not maintained, repaired, accepted, or affordable. It is therefore imperative that arsenic remediation technologies be evaluated for their ability to perform within a sustainable and scalable business model that addresses these challenges. We present field trial results of a 600 L Electro-Chemical Arsenic Remediation (ECAR) reactor operating over 3.5 months in West Bengal. These results are evaluated through the lens of a community scale micro-utility business model as a potential sustainable and scalable safe water solution for rural communities in South Asia. We demonstrate ECAR's ability to consistently reduce arsenic concentrations of ~ 266 μg/L to < 5 μg/L in real groundwater, simultaneously meeting the international standards for iron and aluminum in drinking water. ECAR operating costs (amortized capital plus consumables) are estimated as $0.83–$1.04/m3 under realistic conditions. We discuss the implications of these results against the constraints of a sustainable and scalable business model to argue that ECAR is a promising technology to help provide a clean water solution in arsenic-affected areas of South Asia.