Shneel Malik, a Barlett doctoral candidate, has created Indus — a modular wall system that is created to clean water polluted using dyes and chemicals with the help of ceramic tiles and algae.
The ceramic tiles used to create this modular wall is layered with microalgae and seaweed-based hydrogel. The water passes through it, with the wall working its magic and eliminating water with all of the toxins in a cost-effective way.
The tile has leaf-like channels carved inside. Made with algae hydrogel, the water gets cleared of its toxins thanks to algae’s natural bioremediation capabilities. When the water is added through an inlet, the water passes through these channels and gets cleansed. One can pass the water through multiple times, depending on the toxicity in the water.
The project’s end goal is to take down water and soil pollution through textile dyes with the help of cost-effective and less-technical infrastructure.
The story for the creation of Indus is fascinating. In 2016, The Amity University graduate was travelling to certain parts of India where she noticed small-scale jewellery workers and textile dyers were releasing dangerous toxins in water like cadmium, arsenic lead. This was affecting not just the water but also the soil and air, threatening life to the community that stayed there.
In a statement to FastCompany, Malik says, “With the support of NGOs such as Pure Earth and CEE in India, who are involved in tackling pollution, we were able to visit multiple sites in Kolkata (bangle-makers) and Panipat (textile dyers) in India. These site visits made us better understand the site- and context-specific constraints and challenges in wastewater treatment.”
She further added, “Neither the artisan workers have any space available for Westernised high-tech water treatment solutions, nor do they have the economic capacity to get additional support. Therefore, we started to design a system-which is both spatially compatible, but more importantly can be constructed and maintained by the artisans themselves.”
However, right now the hydrogel infused in the tiles needs to be replaced every few months.
Malik and her team are researching on making it more sustainable to strike a balance between the longevity and the detoxification, while also keep the costs low.