On Saturday 24 June, the three members of the Sail for Water NGO crew dropped anchor in the bay of Toulon, France. At sea since 11 October 2015, the crew sailed the planet’s oceans for over 20 months, covered 33,000 miles, and handed out almost 1000 filters to enable over 30,000 people to produce their own drinking water.
A ceremony, tinged with emotions and congratulations, was organized to celebrate the return of Nicolas (25 years old), Romain (26 years old) and Thomas (30 years old).
We are very happy to have completed this round-the-world journey, and we are proud of what we have achieved. Providing the most disadvantaged populations with a means to access drinking water, in sometimes extreme conditions, is an indescribable feeling. I want to thank our sponsors and partners for making this extraordinary adventure possible and for developing a new simple, efficient and easy-to-use filter.
For Arkema, the outcome is equally positive. The Group, which has made the management of water one of its six research platforms, quite naturally came forward as a sponsor of the Sail for Water NGO to supply the filters. Arkema developed a new filter specifically for this mission, in partnership with a manufacturer of ultrafiltration systems.
It is important for us to translate into concrete actions our commitment to improving water quality thanks to our properly designed technical polymers. We are delighted with the work achieved in developing, with our industrial partner Polymem, a new more efficient and more durable ultrafiltration cartridge, which was put to the test and validated through the action on the ground of the Sail for Water NGO.
Over 10 countries visited, nearly 1000 filtration cartridges handed out
At every stop-over, the Sail for Water NGO contacted local organizations to identify the areas with the most urgent need for help in producing drinking water.
During their stop-overs as they sailed the oceans, the three-man crew of the sailboat Williwaw came to the aid of remote populations affected by a lack of sanitary infrastructures or their destruction as a result of natural disasters such as earthquakes or cyclones.
In Ecuador, in the wake of a strong earthquake in April 2016, the crew were involved in an emergency mission in the worst affected regions, in collaboration with the Franco-Ecuadorian association Ecuasol. Almost 100 filters were handed out, which helped produce drinking water to prevent epidemics.
The Sail for Water NGO also played a role on the island of Koro in Fiji, which was completely devastated by cyclone Wintson in February 2016.
To ensure the filters were used as efficiently as possible, additional actions were taken to train young people in schools, mothers and village chiefs, responsible for the production of drinking water, and raise their awareness of hygiene, in particular washing hands, keeping the filters clean and in working order, and treating water.
A new ultrafiltration cartridge for even safer water
For their last three missions in Africa, the crew of the Sail for Water NGO benefited from water filtration membrane manufacturer Polymem’s recent innovation, with a new ultrafiltration membrane developed jointly with Arkema.
The innovation, which was awarded a 2016 Pierre Potier prize, entails a cartridge comprising the very latest generation ultrafiltration hollow fibers produced from a new Kynar® fluoropolymer grade with long-lasting hydrophilic properties.
This technology helps eliminate not just ultrafine particles but also bacteria and viruses through simple gravity filtration.
300 filters developed from this technology, even more efficient, were supplied to the crew and used on the ground during their last missions in South Africa and in Namibia.
These partnerships illustrate Arkema’s vision as a responsible company to support concrete actions and develop innovative solutions in order to meet the major societal challenges of today and tomorrow.
Arkema and water treatment
As a result of the increasing world population, greater and greater amounts of water will need to be treated and purified. Given the present and future difficulties of access to drinking water, effective management of this resource is as crucial as that of oil. The key is to develop efficient and optimized processes for the elimination of polluants, bacteria and viruses.
The Arkema group is aware of its responsibility towards sustainable development as a specialist in chemistry, and as such has made water treatment one of the priorities of its research.