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Elon Musk-Funded Water Filtration Systems for Flint Schools Continue Testing Ahead of Full Rollout

by Claribelle Deveza December 20, 2019


Kettering University researchers thoroughly explained how Flint's water filtration systems, which were funded through a donation by Tesla and SpaceX CEO Elon Musk, work. The filtration units will be used in all 12 school buildings in Flint and the district's administration building. 

Mid-Michigan NOW’s Alysia Burgio was able to get a sneak peek inside the lab of Kettering University researchers, where Flint’s new water filtration systems are currently being tested. Dr. Laura Sullivan, a Mechanical Engineering Professor at the university, spoke with Burgio. The university professor said that the tests were meant to assure the community that the filtration systems actually do work and will be useful to the student of Flint schools. 

Dr. Sullivan expressed her utmost confidence that the filtration systems would work and wanted to back it up with evidence through test results. “I’m absolutely sure that these will work, but that’s not enough. I want to demonstrate that they work,” she said. 

Based on the behind-the-scenes look Burgio gained access to, Flint’s water filtrations systems have three different levels. First, there is the Ultra Filter, which keeps most of the bacteria from contaminating the water. Next, the liquid goes through the Carbon Filter, which removes any metal, like lead or copper, from the water. After, the water passes through Ultraviolet Light, which kills any bacteria left over from the Ultra Filter. 

According to Dr. Sullivan, Kettering University is using water that is more contaminated than samples taken from Flint’s municipal water for their tests. So the researchers seem to be thoroughly examining the filtration systems and putting them through rigorous testing.

Flint’s water filtration system cost the school board US$221,000 out of the US$480,350 Elon Musk donated to the district through the Musk Foundation. The filtration system does seem to be quite sophisticated, based on Burgio’s inside look. It even has a Wi-Fi device that informs people if the fountains are working. Flint parents and faculty can monitor the filtration systems online at any time as long as they are connected to the internet. 

According to MLive, Flint's school board approved the purchase of the water cooler/bottle filler systems from Murdock Manufacturing in December 2018. Derrick Lopez, the Superintendent of Flint Community Schools, said that four filtration systems were purchased. Two of the filtration units were sent to Kettering University for further research, and the other two were installed in Doyle Ryder Elementary School and Southwestern Classical Academy. 

Claribelle Deveza
Claribelle Deveza

Longtime writer and news/book editor. Writing about Tesla allows me to contribute something good to the world, while doing something I love.

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