May 07, 2012

Inventor Honored for Helping Millions Get Clean, Safe, Affordable Water

Dr. Ashok Gadgil received $100,000 Lemelson-MIT Award for Global Innovation for solutions to global water crisis, among other accomplishments

The Lemelson-MIT Program recently announced Dr. Ashok Gadgil as the recipient of the 2012 $100,000 Lemelson-MIT Award for Global Innovation in recognition of his steady pursuit to blend research, invention and humanitarianism for broad social impact.

Gadgil is a chair professor of safe water and sanitation at the University of California, Berkeley, and director of the Environmental Energy Technologies Div. at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, whose diverse inventions and sustainable innovations are helping those in the developing world to live healthier, safer lives.

Gadgil is a physicist by training whose curiosity and commitment to employ his expertise to benefit humankind has led to a string of inventions and innovations from safe drinking water solutions and a utility-sponsored energy efficiency program, to fuel-efficient stoves for displaced persons in Africa. He also works with stakeholders in beneficiary communities to rally support and increase adoption of his inventions. His solutions, which integrate science with cultural needs, have helped an estimated 100,000,000 individuals in dozens of countries across four continents.

He envisioned an affordable solution to disinfect drinking water in 1993 after more than 10,000 people in his home country of India died from Bengal cholera. Gadgil designed UV Waterworks, an effective and inexpensive technology that utilizes ultraviolet light to kill deadly, disease-causing pathogens. The technology has been disseminated by WaterHealth Intl. Inc. (WHI) and is producing safe, clean drinking water at a price of just $0.02 per 10 liters. WHI's water is affordable even to those making much less than $2 per day.

WHI distributes the water through a public-private partnership, including a series of village council-owned clean water centers that are built, operated and maintained by WHI. The village councils provide access to land and raw water. Maintenance, clean water education, quality control and optional home delivery all are funded through the sale of the water. The UV Waterworks technology and WHI have provided safe drinking water to approximately five million people in Ghana, India, Liberia, Nigeria and the Philippines, among many other countries, with plans for expansion to Bangladesh.

For more on Gadgil's humanitarian efforts, you can read the original release here.