The team of Dr. Ashok Gadgil, Dr. Susan Addy, Case van Genuchten (University of California Berkley, USA ), Dr. Robert Kostecki (Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory) and Dr. Joyashree Roy (Jadavpur University, Kolkata).
The prize is awarded to this team of researchers for developing an innovative and effective method of treating the arsenic contamination of groundwater using electrocoagulation.
They have produced an exemplary work of fundamental and applied science which runs the complete course from initial research to functioning prototype, while addressing one of the most serious drinking water problems confronting the human population in developing countries.
Suffice it to say that 1 in 5 of all adult deaths in Bangladesh are presently due to chronic arsenic poisoning. About 100 million people in Bangladesh and in the nearby Indian state of West Bengal are exposed to very high levels of naturally occurring arsenic in groundwater, which is their main source of drinking water. The World Health Organization recommends a maximum contaminant limit (MCL) for arsenic in drinking water of 10 μg/liter; in some areas of Bangladesh arsenic levels are as high as 800 μg/liter. This has rightly been called the largest case of mass poisoning in world history.
Arsenic pollution of groundwater is a widespread problem in other deltaic sediments around the globe. Millions of people suffer from latent arsenic poisoning, culminating in many dangerous diseases, including cancer. There has long been a need for a simple and inexpensive method of treating arsenic contaminated water, which will save millions of people from arsenic poisoning and related health problems.
The possible impact of the method developed by the group – the best and most cost-effective method available to date – is huge. Even though the group’s research draws on a previously known electrocoagulation process, its scientific and practical value is high.
It is not sufficient to just establish that electrochemical reactions can precipitate arsenic. It is equally important to establish the stability of the precipitate and its behaviour under different electrolysis conditions and with other ions present. The team has carried out this evaluation in a careful and comprehensive way using advanced synchrotron-based X-ray characterization techniques (EXAFS).
They have also considered the disposal of wastes. They have exhibited creativity by transforming this scientific knowledge successfully into an easy-to-understand and easy-to-operate, locally affordable technology.
Finally, the analysis of societal implementation is convincing, going for a community approach rather than an individual application in each household. This excludes errors in operation and guarantees achieving economies of scale. The required voltage of 3 V can be provided by photovoltaic cells. The estimated price of safe groundwater at 4 US cents per 10 litres is comparatively low and acceptable even for the very poor.
Dr. Ashok Gadgil
Dr. Ashok Gadgil is the Andrew and Virginia Rudd Family Foundation Distinguished Chair Professor of Safe Water and Sanitation, in Civil and Environmental Engineering at the University of California, Berkeley. He is also Division Director, and Faculty Senior Scientist, Environmental Energy Technologies Division at the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory.
• Ph.D. 1979; University of California, Berkeley, Physics.
• M.A. 1975; University of California, Berkeley, Physics.
• M.Sc. 1973; Indian Institute of Technology, Kanpur, Physics.
• B.Sc. 1971; University of Bombay, Physics.
Selected Awards (from more than 30 leading awards):
2012: Zayed Future Energy Prize.
2011: European Inventor Award.
2011: Olympus and NCIIA Lifetime Award for teaching innovation to students.
2010: “Sustainability Pioneer Award” from SAG/SAM of Zurich, Switzerland.
2009: The Heinz Award for the Environment.
2009: Outstanding Mentor Award by the Office of Science, U.S. Department of Energy.
2007: Popular Mechanics Magazine, “Breakthrough Award”.
2007: Toshiba Green Innovation Award.
2006: Museum of Science & Technology, Chicago: one of 40 living exemplars of the spirit of Leonardo da Vinci.
2002: “World Technology Award” in the Energy category.
1996: Discover Award for the most significant invention for 1995.
Dr. Susan Amrose Addy
Dr. Susan Addy is Project Scientist and Lecturer at the University of California, Berkeley, Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering.
• PhD, 2008; University of California, Berkeley, Physics.
• BS, 2000; University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, Honors Physics and Philosophy.
2008: Dr. Daniel Cubicciotti Award, The Electrochemical Society.
2007: Outstanding Public Service award, Chancellor, University of California - Berkeley.
2007: People, Planet, and Prosperity (P3) Phase Phase II Award, USEPA.
2006: People, Planet, and Prosperity (P3) Phase I Award, USEPA.
2000: Williams L. Williams Prize in Physics, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor.
1998: Elsa L. Haller Philosophy Prize, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor.
Dr. Robert Kostecki
Dr. Robert Kostecki is Staff Scientist and Deputy Division Director of the Environmental Energy Technologies Division in Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory.
• Ph.D.; University of Geneva, Switzerland, Chemical Sciences.
• M.Sc.; Warsaw Technical University, Poland, Solid State Technology.
• B.Sc.; Warsaw Technical University, Poland, Chemical Engineering.
2008: US Environmental Protection Agency P3 Award.
2003: NATO-CARWC Award for Contributions to the Science of Carbon for Electrochemical Power Sources.
2002: DOE Advanced Technology Program Award for the best individual achievement.
2002: DOE Advanced Technology Program Award for the best scientific paper.
2000: LBNL Outstanding Performance Award.
Dr. Joyashree Roy
Dr. Joyashree Roy is Professor of Economics at Jadavpur University, Kolkata, and and Coordinator of the university's Global Change Programme which focuses on selected aspects of Climate Change research and beyond.
• Ph.D. 1991; Jadavpur University, Kolkata, India, Economics.
• MA. 1978; North Eastern Hill University, Shillong, India, Economics.
2011: Best Citizen’s Award, Friendship Society of India.
2011: Sawamsiddha Award of Rotary Club of Calcutta Metro City.
2008: Felicitaion and award from India's Prime Minister for valuable contribution to the IPCC process (AR4).
2008: Jadavpur University Teachers Association Felicitation for noteworthy achievements in her research field.
2007: Nobel Peace Prize: as member of the IPCC. (Coordinating Lead author, industry chapter, WGIII of AR4).
1998: NIPFP-Ford Foundation Follow up Post-Doctoral Research grant (in Economics).
1997: Ford Foundation Post Doctoral Fellowship Award in Environmental Economics.
Case van Genuchten
Case van Genuchten is a 4th year Ph. D. student focusing on Water Quality Engineering in the department of Civil and Environmental Engineering at the University of California, Berkeley.
• Ph.D. 2014 (expected); University of California, Berkeley Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering.
• M.S. 2009; University of California, Berkeley Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering.
• B.S. 2008; San Diego State University Department of Civil, Environmental, and Construction Engineering.
•2010: National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowship.
•2009: Jane Lewis Fellowship, University of California, Berkeley.
His Royal Highness Crown Prince Salman Bin Abdulaziz Al Saud, His Royal Highness Prince Khaled Bin Sultan Bin Abdulaziz, honorable members of the Prize Council, and distinguished guests and colleagues... It is a great honor for my team, and me personally, to be selected for the Prince Sultan International Prize for Water’s Creativity Prize, for the 5th Biennial Cycle of the Award. We would like to express our deep gratitude to the distinguished members of the Preliminary Screening Committee, the Referee Committee, the Selection Committee, and the Prize Council of the Prince Sultan Prize, chaired by HRH Prince Khaled Bin Sultan Bin Abdulaziz.
Water is Life. Life cannot exist without water. And to enable healthy life by providing healthful, clean, and life-supporting water -- is one of the most satisfying, compassionate, and life-affirming activities possible.
Imagine how unfair life is for the tens of millions of arsenic-afflicted people – mostly also very poor – when the very water they drink is killing them slowly, but surely and painfully. On top of it is the psychological pain and suffering of social rejection of young women by their families, or by their spouses, when they get disfigured, or develop terminal diseases, or get into intergenerational indebtedness to buy treatment. This is what arsenic in drinking water threatens to do to millions of people who must drink it every day.
Our team strived to ensure that the safe drinking water produced with our ECAR technology, is locally affordable to the poorest communities; that the technology is robust and reliable in harsh and difficult field operating conditions; easy to maintain, and based on new and deeper understanding of the basic science. We strive to ensure that it is socially placed in a correct way so that communities can accept it from the start. And we also pay attention to the safe disposal of the arsenic-laden waste that must result from removing the arsenic from the water.
We take this opportunity to recognize our numerous funding supporters, especially LBNL, US EPA’s P3 program, the NCIIA, UC Berkeley’s Blum Center, the Sustainable Products and Solutions program, and the Big Ideas competition. And most importantly we recognize the dedicated efforts of many student-volunteers from Berkeley, who worked selflessly to advance this technology.
In closing, we note that in awarding us this distinguished prize, the honorable members of the selection committees and the Prize Council took a view that is both intellectually rigorous and informed by compassion. In addition to rigorous engineering science, it also values social-science and relevance.
We are pleased that this prize highlights creative work to alleviate human suffering on the planet related to our most precious asset, water. Demanding such high and broad standards is both highly valuable and rare. We are especially pleased and humbled that the distinguished jury selected our work when judging against these lofty standards.
1. C. van Genuchten, S. Addy, J. Pena, and A. Gadgil. Removing arsenic from synthetic groundwater with iron electrocoagulation: An Fe and As k-edge EXAFS study. Environmental Science & Technology, 46(2):986–994, 2011.
2. S. Addy, A. Gadgil, C. van Genuchten, and L. Li. Locally affordable arsenic remediation for rural South Asia using electrocoagulation. Proceedings of the 35th WEDC International Conference, Loughborough, UK, 2011.
3. A. Gadgil, S. Addy, and C. van Genuchten. A novel technology to remove arsenic from drinking water for Bangladesh tubewells. Proceedings of the 2010 AIChE Annual Meeting, Salt Lake City, UT, Nov 8 2010.
4. S. E. Addy, A. Gadgil, K. Kowolik, and R. Kostecki. Electrochemical arsenic remediation for rural Bangladesh. Proceedings of the Symposium on Sustainable and Safe Drinking Water in Developing and Developed Countries: Where Science Meets Policy, Chapel Hill, NC, 5 - 6 November 2008.
5. Patent: A. Gadgil, S. E. Addy, R. Kostecki. Electrochemical removal of arsenic. a. United States Patent Application, Publication US2011/0215001, published September 8, 2011. b. Bangladesh Patent No. 1005081, accepted Nov. 7 2010.