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Water treatment information, publications and resources:

  • SoDis

    The Humanitarian Technology Research Group offer an online archive that presents the design and background of the award winning project "Solar thermal/UV water treatment for humanitarian use".

    What is SoDis?

    SoDis stands for Solar disinfection, a process that uses sunlight to inactivate or destroy bacterial contaminants in drinking water.

    How does SoDis work?

    SoDis functions by using UVA light from the sun to create reactive oxygen species within the water (such as OH- and peroxides) which then attack the DNA of microbes present in the water destroying them or rendering them inert.

    Why small scale solutions?

    Large-scale treatment of water is important in developed societies but this technology is intended to address the issue of safe drinking water in places that are remote, underdeveloped and difficult to access. This work was motivated by the United Nations Millennial Development Goals that seek to halve the number of people without access to clean and reliable sources of drinking water.

    How do I build my own Solar disinfection system?

    Simple. Follow the SoDis plans provided on this website. The system is designed to be robust, low maintenance and able to be constructed from commonly available materials at low cost. The reason for this is so that the systems can be constructed where they are needed by the end users, particularly in remote areas (such as the mountain communities of Papua New Guinea).

    How much does it cost?

    The parts of the SoDis system provided here can be improvised at minimal cost. The hardest part would be procuring a glass or perspex tube. Borosilicate glass tubes are available individually for approximately $8 (or cheaper in bulk). Other components are wood, plastic sheeting or metalized plastic (which can be scrounged from chip packets or the interior of packing containers.

    What problems does SoDis fix?

    SoDis does not remove PHYSICAL, CHEMICAL or RADIOLOGICAL contaminations. It deals with faecal or microbial contamination of improvised water-sources, or sources such as stored rainwater. Typically, microbial contamination of water sources from decomposing material within a catchment or faecal contamination of ground-water are the most pressing issues in remote communities, which already have rainwater harvesting tanks in place.

    How much water can this system treat?

    Depends on the incoming UVA radiation. A single unit has been shown to successful remove bacterial contamination, treating approximately 20 litres per day under typical conditions. Multiple units can be applied in series to upscale treatment as necessary.

  • Bibliography

    The following list is a source of references for further information:

    Alrousan DMA, Polo-Lopez MI, Dunlop PSM, Fernandez-Ibanez P, Byrne JA (2012) "Solar photocatalytic disinfection of water with immobilised titanium dioxide in re-circulating flow CPC reactors", Applied Catalysis B: Environmental 128(0):126-134.

    Amin M, Han M (2009) "Roof harvested rainwater for potable purposes: application of solar disinfection (sodis) and limitations" Water Science and Technology 60(2):419-431.

    AusAID (2012) "Civil society water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) funds". Technical Report,

    Bounds M (2012) "Solar distillation:technical brief", Schumacher Center for Technology and Development, Technical report.

    Byrne JA, Fernandez-Ibanez PA, Dunlop PSM, Alrousan DMA, Hamilton JWJ (2011) International Journal of Photoenergy, Article ID 798051 pp. 1-12

    Carter AM , Pacha RE, Clark GW, Williams EA (1987) "Seasonal occurrence of Campylobacter spp. In surface waters and their correlation with standard indicator bacteria", Applied and Environmental Microbiology 53(3):523-526.

    Central Intelligence Agency (2012) "The world factbook",

    Department of National Planning and Monitoring (2010),

    Dev R, Tiwari GN (2011) "Solar Distillation" In "Drinking Water Treatment" Ed: Chitttaranjan R, Springer Verlag, pp159-210.

    Evans C, Coombes P, Dunstan R (2006) "Wind, rain and bacteria: The effect of weather on the microbial composition of roof-harvested rainwater", Water Research 40(1):37-44.

    Gleeson C, Gray N (1997) "The coliform index and waterborne disease" E&FN SPON, London.

    Griffiths JK (2008) "Waterborne Diseases" In International Encylopedia of Public Health, Academic Press Inc.

    Hood MA, Ness GE, Blake NJ (1983) "Relationship between fecal coliforms, escheria coli, and salmonella spp. in shellfish", Applied and Environmental Microbiology 45:122-126.

    Kiely G (1997) "Environmental Engineering" McGraw-Hill, ISBN 9780077091279.

    Konersmann L, Frank E (2011) "Solar water disinfection: Field tests and implemenation concepts" In 30th ISES Biennial Solar World Congress, Kassel, Germany.

    Koning J, Thiesen S (2005) "Aqua Solaris: an optimased small-scale desalination system with 40 litres output per square meter based upon solar-thermal distillation", Desalination, 182(1-3):503-509.

    Malato S, Blanco J, Alarcon DC, Maladonado MI, Fernandez-Ibanez P, Gernjak W (2007) "Photolytic decontamination and disinfection of water with solar collectors" Catalysis Today 122:137-149.

    Malato S, Blanco J, Maladonado MI, Fernandez-Ibanez P, Alarcon DC, Collares M, Farinha J, Correia J (2007) "Engineering of solar photocatalytic collectors" Solar Energy 77(5):443-664

    Malato S, Maldonado MI, Blanco J, Gernjak W (2009) "Decontamination and disinfetion of water by solar photocatlysis"

    McGuigan KG, Conroy RM, Mosler HJ, du Preez M, Ubomba-Jaswa E (2012) "Solar water disinfection (sodis): A review from bench-top to roof-top"; Journal of Hazardous Materials, 235-236:29-46.

    McGuigan KG, Joyce TM, Conroy RM, Gillespie JB, Elmore-Morgan M (1998) "Solar disinfection of drinking water contained in transparent plastic bottles: characterizing the bacterial inactivation process", Journal of Applied Microbiology, 84(6):1138-1148.

    McLoughlin OA, Fernandez Ibanez P, Gernjak W, Malato S, Gill LW (2004) "Photocatalytic disinfection of water using low-cost parabolic collectors" Solar Energy 77(5):625-633.

    Meynell GG, Meynell E (1970) "Theory and Practice in Experimental Bacteriology", Cambridge University Press.

    Morinigo MA, Munoz MA, Romero P, Borrego JJ (1990) "Relationships between salmonella spp and indicator microorganisms in polluted natural waters", Water Research 24(1):117-120.

    Muslih IM, Abdallah SM, Husain WA (2010) "Cost comparitive study for new water distillation techniques by solar energy", Applied Solar Energy 46(1):8-12.

    Myre E, Shaw R (2006) "The turbidity tube: simple and accurate measurement of turbidity in the field", Michigan Technological University.

    Onyango EA, Thoruwa TFN, Maingi SM, Njagi EM (2009) "Performance of 2-element plane reflector augmented galvanised piupe flat plate collector for solar water pasteurization", Journal of Food Technology 7(1):12-19.

    Pejack E (2011) "Solar Pastuerization", Ch 3 pp37-54, Springer.

    Prüss-Üstün A, Bos R, Gore F, Bartram J (2008) "Safer water, better health: Costs, benefits and sustainability of interventions to protect and promote health", World Health Organisation, Technical Report

    Safapour N, Metcalf R (1999) "Enhancement of solar water pastuerisation with reflectors", Applied and Environmental Microbiology, 65(2):859-861.

    Skinner J (2009) "Where every drop counts: tackling rural Africa water crisis", International Institute for Environmnet and Development, Technical Report.

    Song J, Han M, Kim TI, Song JE (2009) "Rainwater harvesting as a sustainable water supply option in Banda Aceh", Desalination 248:3

    Ubomba-Jaswa E, Navntoft C, Polo-Lopez MI, Fernandez-Ibanez P, McGuigan KG (2009) "Solar disinfection of drinking water (sodis): An investigation of UV-A dose on inactivation efficiency", Photochem. Photobiol. Sci 8:587-595.

    United Nations (2006) "The Millennium Development Goals Report 2006" United Nations Development Programme,

    Warre I (2009) "Kokorogo program area: Water and sanitation baseline survey", ChildFund PNG, Technical Report

    WeatherSpark (2013) "Average weather cloud types",

    Wegelin M, Canonica S, Meschner K, Fleishmann T, Pesaro F, Metzler A (1994) ÒSolar water disinfection: scope of the process and analysis of radiation experimentsÓ J. Water SRT Ð Aqua 43(3):154-169.

    World Health Organization (2003) "Assessing microbial safety of drinking water - improving approaches and methods" IWA, London.

    World Health Organization (2011) "Evaluating household water treatment options: Health-based targets and microbiological performance specifications" Technical Report.

    World Health Organization (2011) "Guidelines for drinking-water quality" Geneva, ISBN 978 9241548151

    World Health Organization (2006) "Meeting the MDG drinking water and sanitation target: the urban and rural challenge of the decade", ISBN 9241563257.

    World Health Organization (2005) "Nutrients in drinking water", Geneva ISBN 9241593989

  • Image Gallery
  • Publications and Resources

    SoDis design drawings
    Full Engineering Design specifications and S.O.P  [PDF-599kB]

    Final Year Project (FYP) Report (2013)
    FYP 1388 - Solar Thermal/UV Water Treatment for Humanitarian Use (Report) [PDF - 18MB]
    Appendices A - J  [PDF - 17MB]
    Appendices K - S [PDF - 5.8MB]
    Harrison Evans, Anthony Liew, Mark Padovan, Michael Watchman

    HumTech 2014 (Boston) Conference Paper  
    Solar Disinfection Water Treatment System for Remote Communities  [PDF - 1.3MB]
    Peter Kalt, Cristian Birzer, Harrison Evans, Anthony Liew, Mark Padovan, Michael Watchman

Cookstove information:


  • Equipment available within the group
      • MRU Instruments gas analyser
      • Continuous Pyrolysis Reactor
      • Batch Pyrolysis Reactor
      • Flue Gas Dilution and Isokinetic Particle Sampling System
      • Anderson Cascade Impactor (0.3 - 10 micron)
      • Optical Particle Counter (0.3 - 10 micron)
      • Flue Gas Analyser (CO2, O2, CO)
      • Agilent 490 Micro GC Gas analyser
      • MultiRAE Portable Gas Monitor (VOCs, NH3, H2S, SO2, NO and NO2)
      • Ozone Gas Monitor
      • Ozone Gas Generator
      • Tube Furnaces
      • Muffle Furnace
      • FTIR (Gas phase and solid phase)
      • Mass Flow Controllers
      • TSI Velocicalc
Humtech Research Group
Please direct any enquiries to:

Dr Cristian Birzer
School of Mechanical Engineering
The University of Adelaide


T: +61 8 8313 3148
F: +61 8 8313 4367