TAU partners with major Canadian foundation to produce clean water

TAU researchers said they plan to use the Asper Foundation's gift to further expand the capabilities of their LED lighting and solar energy water disinfecting device.

 Inauguration of the Asper Clean Water Fund (photo credit: Rafael Ben-Menashe /TAU)
Inauguration of the Asper Clean Water Fund
(photo credit: Rafael Ben-Menashe /TAU)

Tel Aviv University and the Canadian Friends of Tel Aviv University (CFTAU) announced a joint collaboration on Wednesday with one of Canada’s largest private foundations aimed at further developing technology that produces safe drinking water in the developing world.

The $407,000 gift from The Asper Foundation, a leading force in Jewish and general philanthropy in Israel and Canada, will be used in a TAU lab that has developed a patented technology that uses LED lighting and solar energy to disinfect water, according to the university. The laptop-sized device—called SoLED—operates without any chemicals or electricity to kill 99.9% of bacteria and viruses from water, making it inexpensive and accessible. 

 Prof. Hadas Mamane, head of Tel Aviv University’s Water Energy (WE) Lab. (credit: Rafael Ben-Menashe /TAU) Prof. Hadas Mamane, head of Tel Aviv University’s Water Energy (WE) Lab. (credit: Rafael Ben-Menashe /TAU)

Scarcity of safe drinking water

At least two billion people around the world use water from contaminated sources. And unsafe water is linked to the deaths of an estimated 800 children daily. The issue predominantly impacts people in the developing world, where there is limited access to clean water.

The university also noted the impact climate change has on water scarcity, which reportedly will affect nearly half the world’s population by 2025.

Prof. Hadas Mamane, Head of the Water-Energy Lab at TAU, expressed excitement about The Asper Foundation's generosity, stating that her team plans to use the gift to further expand the capabilities of the technology and field-test the device. Their ultimate goal is to produce a scalable version that could be manufactured for mass distribution.

"This gift will accelerate our efforts to provide underserved populations with access to clean water — a basic human right and an endeavor that stands to save thousands of lives.”

Prof. Hadas Mamane

“My team and I are delighted and honored by The Asper Foundation's support," she said. "This gift will accelerate our efforts to provide underserved populations with access to clean water — a basic human right and an endeavor that stands to save thousands of lives.”

“My late parents, Israel and Babs, would be incredibly proud of this endeavor which will make such a positive impact on people’s lives," the foundation's president and trustee Gail Asper said.  "The research at Prof. Mamane’s Water-Energy Lab and at Tel Aviv University aligns with our foundation's commitment to supporting entrepreneurial spirit and to creating a better world. We are excited to embark on this journey to advance innovative ideas and change lives.”