BIO-SUN, l'ultraviolets et l'énergie solaire pour rendre l'eau potable en Haïti

Ultraviolet light and solar energy: with BIO-SUN, BIO-UV makes water drinkable in Haiti

Despite the United Nations’ declaration in 2010 that safe and clean water and sanitation is a human right, access to drinking water remains unequal worldwide. This is a major problem that is becoming more acute every day due to exponential population growth and global warming, which makes water resources and access to water scarce, especially in desert areas and the most remote regions of the world.

Although water supports both life and economic development, it is unfortunately also a source of disease and death. Unsafe water is a silent scourge that many are unaware of. Given this alarming observation, BIO-UV Group decided to use its experience in ultraviolet water treatment to design BIO-SUN, a stand-alone terminal capable of filtering, disinfecting and purifying water using ultraviolet radiation and solar energy. Our goal? To make drinking water accessible to all!

This ingenious, innovative system is already being put to good use in Haiti. Read on to find out more about this collaborative project for the greater good.

Access to safe drinking water around the world

Ultraviolets et énergie solaire : avec BIO-SUN, BIO-UV Group rend l’eau potable en Haïti Today, nearly 2.2 billion people across the globe are still unable to meet their daily water needs. For many, access can be difficult or even impossible, leading 144 million people to consume water not suitable for drinking. As a result, some 2.6 million people die every year from diseases related to polluted water, such as cholera, typhoid, dysentery and polio, making waterborne disease the world’s leading cause of death.
Access to drinking water often requires very significant financial and human investment from NGOs and international humanitarian associations to make safe water available in sufficient quantities.

To tackle this challenge, the BIO-UV Group has designed BIO-SUN, a stand-alone water treatment terminal adapted to underprivileged areas. This terminal can eradicate pathogenic microorganisms in water that cause waterborne diseases and which are especially prevalent in disadvantaged peri-urban areas.

“This stand-alone terminal was designed to provide drinking water in remote areas, under-developed countries and shantytowns in large cities”, explains Benoît Gillmann, CEO and founder of the BIO-UV Group. 

BIO-SUN, a stand-alone drinking water TERMINAL that combines filtration and disinfection with UV light and sunlight

ultraviolets et énergie solaire avec bio-sun bio-uv group rend l'eau potable en Haïti To ensure its dual purpose of water filtration and disinfection, the BIO-SUN terminal comprises a zeolite filter (a volcanic stone that retains suspended particles), a solar panel and a BIO-UV reactor equipped with an ultraviolet lamp.
The terminal was developed in partnership with the company Phaesun for the photovoltaic component and is easy to operate. First, the water enters a tank, either manually through a cap and a 20-litre container, or by means of a connection to the water supply (or integrated with a pump connected to a river or borehole).

“It’s important to remember that in developing countries, especially in Africa, women and children are the ones carrying water. The supply process needed to be simplified to make it accessible to everyone,” says Benoît Gillmann. “The terminal itself was designed not to be too bulky: it is 1.20 metres tall and weighs 100 kilograms,” he says.

Once the water is in the tank, it is filtered and then disinfected using ultraviolet radiation. It is thus purified and freed of all pathogenic microorganisms, especially the hardiest viruses and bacteria such as cholera. The water can then be safely consumed.

ultraviolets et énergie solaire avec bio-sun bio-uv group rend l'eau potable en HaïtiThe power of the reactor is calculated to treat the equivalent of 500 litres/hour with 400 J/m² of sunlight. BIO-SUN can thus deliver two cubic metres of drinking water per day and meet the daily basic needs of 80 to 100 people according to standards set by the World Health Organization (WHO), which recommends 25 litres of water per person. Thanks to its photovoltaic power supply and integrated battery, the BIO-SUN system can operate for 4 hours a day and has an autonomy of about three days without sun. 

Supporting LOCAL ECONOMIC development

ultraviolets et énergie solaire avec bio-sun bio-uv group rend l'eau potable en Haïti In African and Asian countries, installation and maintenance of the systems are often carried out by local companies.

Involving the local population in the terminal maintenance will also help create jobs,” says Delphine Benat-Rassat, one of the managers of Lysa, a company specialising in sustainable water management and maintenance, which worked with BIO-UV Group to install the BIO-SUN terminal in Saint-Marc, Haiti, and trained local residents on system maintenance and upkeep. To raise awareness among the local population, a person is designated to take care of the terminal and distribute the water.

“Encouraging accountability is the ideal way to ensure the equipment lasts,” continues Benoît Gillmann. 

Four solar-powered terminals to provide drinking water in Haiti

In 2011, BIO-UV Group sent a BIO-SUN terminal to the town of Saint-Marc, Haiti, a country hit hard by a cholera epidemic following a devastating and deadly earthquake in 2010. Other terminals were subsequently installed in the country in 2013 at the Sœur Flora orphanage (on Île-à-Vache) and in the village of Bois-Bouton, and in 2016 at the Fond-des-Blancs school in Torbeck.

ultraviolets et énergie solaire avec bio-sun bio-uv group rend l'eau potable en HaïtiThe BIO-SUN terminals are set up by on-site technical teams with the help of the local residents. The photovoltaic panels are then installed. Some of the projects have had specific modifications. At the Sœur Flora orphanage and the Fond-des-Blancs school, solar panels were installed on the roof of the building, out of sight. A tank also had to be installed as a temporary measure pending the completion of the construction of wells to collect rainwater in the village of Bois-Bouton and at the Fond-des-Blancs school.

“Our school is more than 10 years old, and throughout its existence, for 109 children, 18 teachers and five cooks, we have been using activated carbon and silver ion porcelain filter cartridges for water from buckets,” says Myriam Sillien-Labbé, founder of the “L’école du village” school in Torbeck. “We were able to get some drinking water, but not enough because the flow is very slow! We use about 80 litres of water for drinking only – hand washing and dishwashing is done with untreated water. Today, with BIO-SUN, we can wash the dishes and the children’s hands with clean water! We use 320 litres of water daily. Life is completely different when you don’t have to wait until you get home, around three or four o'clock, to quench your thirst under the blazing heat!”

Access to safe water around the world is improving, but there is still much to be done to achieve one of the most important of the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) by 2030. We have fewer than 10 years to reach them all. Let’s keep working!

> BIO-SUN at the Fond-des-Blancs school: see pictures of the project
> A look back at the installation of BIO-SUN terminals at the Sœur Flora orphanage and in the village of Bois-Bouton