World Water Day – ‘Leave no one behind’

World Water Day – ‘Leave no one behind’

22nd March 2019

The theme this year for World Water Day is ‘Leave no one behind’, working to the Sustainable Development Goal of achieving universal access to safe and affordable drinking water by 2030. Playing a key role in this mission are chemical engineers from both academia and industry; who are working on water projects around the world.

In today’s blog we take a trip down memory lane, and reflect on some great examples of members who have used their chemical engineering skills to help people in developing countries access clean water.


First, we reflect on the innovative project by a team from Redeemer’s University  Nigeria, and the University of Postdam and the Max Planck Institute in Germany. Together, using their chemical engineering knowledge and technology, they developed a new Hybrid Clay Adsorbent (HYCA), based on kaolinite clay and Carica papaya seeds. This process removes heavy metal ion and organic pollutants from water and allows people living on less than $2 a day to have access to clean water.

The team went on to win the Dhirubhai Ambani Award for Outstanding Chemical Engineering Innovation for Resource-Poor People (which included US $10,000 cash prize funded by Reliance Industries) at the 2014 IChemE Global Awards.

Watch their interview below:


Next, we look back at IChemE’s 2015 Ashok Kumar Fellow, Michael Jenkins, who published an in-depth Parliamentary Office for Science and Technology (POST) or POSTnote on Access to Water and Sanitation for UK MPs and policy-makers.

The briefing identified that almost a third of the world’s population still lack access to proper toilet facilities, highlighting the importance of sustainable global access to water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) facilities.

Find out more in the briefing: Access to Water and Sanitation.


Folia Water, New York, USA, won the IChemE 2016 Global Award in Water for their low-cost water filters for developing countries.

The easy-to-use filters remove 99.9% of bacteria that causes waterbourne diseases, and were field-tested in poor communities in South Africa, Ghana, Bangladesh, Haiti, Kenya and Honduras.

Watch here to find out more:


Using solar power to generate clean drinking water was the pioneering invention by Desolenator, a clean technology start-up company based out of Imperial College, London. The product uses sunlight to generate power and purify dirty water (including seawater) to clean, pure drinking water.

Desolenator’s invention was so good it won both the Water Award and Outstanding Achievement in Chemical and Process Engineering at the IChemE Global Awards in 2017.

Here's the moment they won, and a little more about the project:


Last, but not least, IChemE Global Awards 2018 winners, University of Malaya and Berqat Mechanic Engineering picked up the Water Award last year for their project – Self-Cleaning Ultrafiltration System Producing Clean Water.

The system they have designed is an automated, self-cleaning, mobile ultrafiltration system, which has been installed in remote villages in Malaysia to produce clean water from various sources for less than 10p per m3.

Learn more about the project here:

2019 and beyond?

With so many inspiring stories over the past five years, it is clear to see the drive and passion demonstrated by chemical engineers continually striving to make a difference, thus proving the importance of chemical engineering in tackling the issues the world faces today.

We’ll be sharing more videos of our 2018 Award winners next week. What’s more, the IChemE Global Awards are now open for entries for 2019. If you have an exciting chemical engineering project, in the water sector or something else entirely, get your nomination in now:

Header image credit: Thomas Koch /