Two engineering students of Polytechnic University of the Philippines in Sta. Mesa, Manila have developed a device that can produce electricity from the filthy water of the nearby Pasig River. The prototype was recognized in an international competition held recently by Schneider Electric, a global specialist in energy management and automation.
“We call it Electrifilter, or electricity generation from filthy water. It can generate electricity and at the same time cleanse wastewater,” Christian Sta. Romana, a 19-year-old female Electronics and Communications Engineering student who is now in her third year at PUP says in an interview at Terraz Restaurant at Zuellig Building in Makati City.
Sta. Romana teamed up with John Paul Santos, now a fresh graduate, to win third place in the annual ‘Go Green in the City’ grand finals in Paris, France on June 24. Electrifilter was able to impress an international panel of judges to bag the third highest honor, among 12 regional champions.
The pair competed against 11 other finalist teams from the United States, Brazil, China, France, Turkey, Russia, Morocco, Pakistan, Australia, Japan and India. Each team presented ideas for efficient energy management in smart cities to a jury composed of Schneider Electric senior management.
The team from India, represented by Mohamad Meraj Shaikh and Spoorthy Kotla from the Indian Institute of Technology Kharagpur, took the top honors with their efficient energy management application while the team from France took home the second spot.
Contestants presented a case study focusing on energy solutions for cities. Working in teams of two, with at least one woman on the team, students devised viable solutions for energy management sectors critical to cities, such as home, university, retail, water and hospital.
The annual event is organized and hosted by Schneider Electric, as part of their advocacy in encouraging the youth to dream up ideas and innovations that can help build the smart cities of the future.
Before heading to France, Santos and Sta. Romana, who are both Electronics and Communications Engineering students, beat 41 other teams in the Philippines to emerge the national champions on March 6.
They edged out other two-person teams from De La Salle University and the Pamantasang Lungsod ng Valenzuela during the country finals.
The PUP tandem on April 2 won against champion teams from Malaysia, Singapore, Korea, Vietnam, Indonesia, Myanmar, and Thailand in the East Asia regional finals.
“We feel privileged to be able to represent our country and the East Asia region, and to be able to hone, not just our technical skills, but also our presentation and community skills,” Sta. Romana says.
Schneider Electric Philippines country president Claude Mazallon says the company is satisfied with the results. “We are very happy that they are part of the top three after competing with best and the brightest in the world,” says Mazallon.
Sta. Romana, who was born in Negros Occidental, is a scholar of the Science and Technology Department. She says Electrifilter, once fully developed, would help communities produce electricity during calamities such as floods.
“Although our output water is not potable, it can be for general usage like flushing the toilet and washing dishes. We designed the prototype as a portable device, so that in times of calamity or flood, you can just pour flood water, and you can generate electricity,” she says.
“It can also be used in remote areas where there is no electricity,” Sta. Romana says.
She says the device is an idea of Santos, a 22 year-old ECE graduate who is preparing for the board exam in April 2016.
Santos says he developed the idea as a PUP student three years ago. “PUP is just beside the Pasig River and in Metro Manila there is a lot of wastewater. I developed the idea three years ago, during my second year in college. We talked about if it was possible to generate electricity from wastewater. Now, we have the chance to pursue this,” he says.
Santos says the ‘Go Green in the City’ competition encouraged him to pursue the project. In need of a female partner, he met Sta. Romana, who is a member of ECE Core, a student body in the Electronics Engineering Department.
“I needed a partner and I chose Christian, who is one of my colleagues in the organization,” he says.
Santos says the device can be valuable in remote communities.
“In the Philippines, we are experiencing different calamities and in our outreach program as a student leader, we went to places where there is no electricity. These communities could use Electrifilter,” he says.
Schneider Electric funded the development of the prototype, which has so far cost P10,000. “I think it will take more money to develop it further,” he says.
Santos says their target is to produce 1 watt from 1.5 liters of wastewater. “But electricity generation does not only depend on water. There are a number of principles involved. Right now, I cannot disclose all the principles, because the research is ongoing,” he says.
“At the same time, we have a filtration system that filters water and make it clean for general use. For now, we are not able to produce potable water,” he says. “The main concept we have is to generate electricity from wastewater. Clean water is just value added.”
Santos says the prototype is still a work in progress. PUP is helping the two students secure patent for Electrifilter, he says.
Santos, who lives in Antipolo City, says he look forward to working with Schneider Electric in the future, or after the board examination in April 2016.
The ‘Go Green in the City’ competition has received a total of around 30,000 participants over the last five years and expanded its scope from eight countries in 2011 to 168 countries in 2015.
In 2013, Slyssa Tricia Eloise Vintola and Lorenz Ray Payonga, both fifth-year electronics and communications engineering students of Ateneo del Manila University, emerged as the overall winner in the global competition, for their entry called “Oscillohump”, which uses electromagnetic induction in gathering energy from road humps.