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Week #2 in Biratnagar: Moving Forward

It’s been almost 2 weeks since we landed in Nepal and a few days less since we started working at the filter factory in Biratnagar. We had a good agenda with a pretty tight schedule coming in and Mike and John have been able to keep everything moving forward so far!

At this point we’re on our 8th firing of the test kiln that enables us to fire and test new clay formulas for filters. They need to be able to hold up to a kiln firing, be strong enough to hold up to day-to-day use, have a good flow rate for the people using them, and most importantly, to be effective in removing bacteria from the water sources. It can take a very long time to work this out, but we are getting close to having a good filter formula for CDO Nepal to use in their filter production. We are working with 4-5 local clays combined with a percentage of finely ground sawdust and sand. It is critical that no bad filters are allowed to be used and so it is paramount that these filters meet WHO (World Health Organization) & our standards.


CDO Nepal has been making and distributing filters since 2018 and we are entering a new phase in our development of this program where the longevity of the filter becomes an issue and field testing of filters and source water needs to happen on a regular basis. This will give us the kind of data necessary to start replacing old filters or filters that are not performing up to standards because they may have been damaged. No filters are meant to last for years and years, and we are finding that after a few years it is possibly a good time to replace them. Although we have found many in the field that are 5 yrs. old and still performing very well, we are moving towards a standard recommendation that they be changed after 2-3 years depending on one’s water source. To this end, Mike and John spent 3 days traveling around Biratnagar with CDO employee Tulsa & Pradeep, targeting houses that have filters and testing their filters and water sources. We conducted almost 80 water tests during these 3 days targeting almost 60 houses. This is a lot of testing with a 24 hour incubation period between each group of tests. It’s about continued efficacy.  This kind of database will give us the needed verification that we are continuing to manufacture highly effective filters and let us know when they are ready to be replaced.

And lastly this week, we started on the new kiln for the factory that will hold 12 filters for each firing. We hope to have the kiln finished before the weekend so we can get a few test firings in before we leave. The design is a sprung arch/cross draft kiln design used in ceramic production.  Mike did a lot of welding for the new kiln using many prefabricated steel fixtures made back in Pennsylvania while John laid the bricks for the walls. We’ve made great progress so far and we look forward to achieving all the necessary tasks we had hoped to when we decided to make this trip this year.  We want CDO Nepal ready for production before we leave. 

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