Massachusetts Institute of Technology

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Kosim Water Keg

Global Challenge Award

Kosim Water Keg

Competition Year: 2011

Provide in-home water purification with minimal user effort.

Water and Sanitation Emergency and Disaster Relief

  • Team Members
  • J. Cummings

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Our Pitch

Over 800 million people worldwide, and 48% of rural Ghanaians, lack access to clean water. In Northern Ghana, a common water source is dug outs, exposed muddy holes that collect rainwater during the wet season. This water is filled with tiny clay particles and bacteria, and only gets worse during the dry season. Where community taps are available, the water only flows a few times a week.

The water has too many particles for chlorination alone to disinfect. The standard NGO response for filtering is clay flowerpot-shaped filters. Water is poured through the filter and stored in a clean plastic bucket. In Ghana, most people store their water outside where these plastic buckets heat the water and break. The filters need to be refilled every few hours, and filtering rates are slow (1-3 Liter/hour) and so families often don't use the filter they have.

The Kosim Water Keg seeks to filter faster with less effort. It is made by combining two of the traditional clay filters to form a sealed keg. This keg is placed in the normal clay storage vessel owned by most Ghanaians. The user continues to fill their water storage vessel the same way they normally do, and the water constantly filters into the keg's clean interior. A siphon passively extracts the clean water. Because the water is stored in clay containers, it stays cool, and with twice the filter area, it filters faster (11 L / hr). Since the water is stored inside the keg, it is also protected from recontamination.


Supply an affordable in-home water purification system to 100 households in Northern Ghana.


2011 MIT School of Engineering “Global Villages” Challenge

Who We Are

Joanna Cummings is currently earning her Masters degree at MIT in Environmental and Water Quality Engineering. She has traveled to over 25 countries and so is familiar with working and living abroad. She actively participated in Engineers Without Borders (EWB) while at Rice University, culminating in team leader. In EWB she worked on small scale community water systems in two communities in Nicaragua. She also participated in Beyond Traditional Borders, where she traveled to Lesotho to perform a baselines survey assessment to determine community needs. She then worked on developing smokeless stove designs adapted to the region and returned to Lesotho to perform research on cooking practices.

Ms. Cummings first starting working on the KWK project for her Master’s thesis this year. She performed the Keg testing in Ghana during January 2011. She plans on traveling back to Ghana to continue field testing the KWK after graduating this June.

Chris Schulz is currently a senior vice president at CDM in Denver, Colorado. He is an expert in international water supply and treatment, with 25 years experience in the planning and design of drinking water treatment facilities in the United States and overseas. He previously worked for the World Bank on water and sanitation in developing countries and co-authored the book Surface Water Treatment for Communities in Developing Countries, published in 1984. Additionally, Mr. Schulz holds 11 U.S. patents with three additional patents pending on water treatment technologies. He has published six articles in peer-reviewed journals and published more than 70 papers in peer-reviewed journals and proceedings of professional engineering conferences. He has served as technical director, project manager, project engineer or process design advisor on dozens of water treatment plant designs in the United States and overseas.

Mr. Schulz has been developing the KWK design since he first thought of the idea in early 2010. He won an internet-based challenge competition by Innocentive that year for the original Keg concept against some 90 other entries to provide safe water in Africa. He partnered with Susan Murcott at MIT to involve students in the design testing process. He has traveled to Ghana twice to work first with Claudia Espinoza, another MIT student, and then with Ms. Cummings on further design development, prototype construction and testing of the Keg design.

Our Community Partner

Partner Name

Pure Home Water


Tamale, Ghana


Pure Home Water (PHW) is a social enterprise in Ghana dedicated to bringing safe water to Northern Ghana. Started in 2005, PHW currently operates a factory producing Kosim ceramic water filters.


  • Service Location
    Tamale, Ghana
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