Team:BNDS China/Human Practices

Human Practices

Our project is the bacterial hard water softener. We think our work is strongly related to several issues that contribute the Human Practices.

I. Crowdfunding

In order to make our project have more profound influences and get financial aids, we decided to run crowdfunding on both a world wide platform and a Chinese platform.

Both of the platforms have received supports from viewers.

II. Environmental and Health Impact

It's a common fact that hard water containing different ions which impacting our lives unconstructively.

The calcium precipitates in the water will make the water containers difficult to wash, wasting more water. A study done by New Mexico State University showed that 29% more energy was used by gas heaters and 21% more with electric heaters run on hard water. The Association Français pour l’Etude des Eaux found soap and detergent use more than doubled in hard water areas.

Hard water also has an effect on the fabric life, which is the longevity of clothes. A study carried out in a Chicago YMCA laundry, found that softening the water supply increased the life of frequently washed household items such as sheets, pillow slips and bath towels by 20-40%.

What's more, Calcium ions in the hard water cannot be decomposed easily and cause certain diseases. With the help of our water softener, we are able to remove a great amount of Ca++ in water and decrease people's risks of getting kidney stones and dehydration.

However, there is still no appropriate solutions for the global issue of water hardness and secondly, if we find a scalable solution it has the potential to have a positive impact on many lives as well as contribute to reducing carbon emissions by increasing the efficiency of energy consumption.

In hard water areas calcium precipitates keep forming on containers. The calcium precipitates on the containers make them hard to open and hard to wash. Though the little amount of calcium in hard water cannot be a major cause of a certain disease, it can cause kidney stones and dehydration. Studies show that softened water is preferable to hard water, since it is associated with a lower risk for recurrence of kidney stones.

Though the calcium precipitates on containers are able to be eliminated by using chemical solutions, this method failed to solve the problem thoroughly because water is still hard after cleaning the container. However, it is true that setting up an ion exchange water system will effectively soften hard water. Unfortunately, a great ion exchange filter demands a price of more than a hundred dollars, which is not affordable for every family. On the contrary, our bacteria filters will have a lower price.

In the United States, 85% people are affected by water hardness, but only 30% of them are able to afford a water softener (The graph below shows the water hardness percentage in the USA).

As for the United Kingdom, about 60% water supply is considered "hard". Much more severely, nearly all water supply in China, which is our home country, have the problem of water hardness. All of my friends who live in Beijing, including me, have the experience of finding calcium precipitates on our mugs.

III. Social and Economic Impact

There are already many ways to soft water in the world. However, those currently exist methods require a great ion exchange filter, which demands more than a hundred dollars for a hard water softener. Our primary intention of making this water softener is to solve the problem of waterhardness in a economical and convenient way, so that it will be affordable for most families. We use bacteria in our lab in order to make the whole system economic and generalize it to more regions.