- R&D 100 Awards
Sustainable and Affordable Fluoride Removal (SAFR) is a method for using mildly processed bauxite, an aluminum-rich ore available ubiquitously worldwide, as an adsorbent for remediating field-relevant fluoride concentrations (up to 10 mg/L) in groundwater to reach the 1.5 mg/L limit established by the World Health Organization (WHO) as safe for drinking. Globally, some 200 million people are at risk of developing irreversible crippling deformities (such as dental/skeletal fluorosis) and other detrimental health effects by drinking groundwater contaminated with toxic levels of naturally occurring fluoride. These problems are repeated in regions with fluoride-rich water throughout the world on every continent. The SAFR method overcomes these barriers by taking a new approach to fluoride remediation—the use of raw or minimally processed bauxite ore to adsorb fluoride in a batch process. This strategy eliminates the costly, wasteful and unnecessary processing involved in refining bauxite into higher-end products (like activated alumina, a commonly used filter media for fluoride removal), resulting in a more sustainable adsorbent method with substantially lower material, energy costs and carbon emissions.