Share the Problem: A-Aqua 2/2


Note: This is a 3-hour workshop that last for two consecutive sessions, with a half-hour break in the middle. 


Poor sanitation is one of the leading causes of disease in emergency situations and humanitarian crises, and results in more fatalities than poor water supply or food shortages. Emergency sanitation is needed in many different circumstances, but there is currently a lack of practical solutions to match the variety of these situations. Given this challenge, A-Aqua is designing a system to enable the safe disposal of faecal sludge from toilets, latrine pits and septic tanks at field hospitals and staff camps in emergency response zones. The system is designed to handle the volume of sludge produced by a Red Cross Referral Hospital or staff camp in the field (approximately 2-10m3/day).


 The system will be simple, inexpensive to operate, easily transportable by standard commercial aircrafts, and rapidly operational - with deployment possible within 2 weeks. It is designed to process mixed liquid sludge from toilet systems within 14 days, with no secondary chemical treatment of sludge required. The system's power supply will enable it to stand alone for up to 3 months, and its operational volume will be 100x bigger than its transport volume. The total cost of the system should not exceed US $50,000.



Why we need you

A-Aqua is about to test two pilot systems, but several issues must be resolved in order to maximise the system's overall effectiveness. Some of these issues are technical details linked to the operation of the system, while some are 'softer' issues involving the end users and potential markets.

With this in mind, the Challenge is actually made up of five specific sub-challenges:

Challenge 1 - Energy: One of the field trials will involve heating the sludge to deactivate harmful pathogens. Hot water (at a temperature of 80°C) is necessary for the system to function, but access to energy is a limiting factor. The only energy with guaranteed access is diesel fuel and a small generator (less than 4kW). What is the best way to produce hot water in the field?

Challenge 2 - Verification: The system will provide a substantial (2-log) reduction in the presence of harmful pathogens that can cause diarrheal disease, with a 99.9% pathogen eradication rate. How could an end-user best confirm that the system is functioning, without access to a proper laboratory?

Challenge 3 - Training: The system will be deployed into emergency zones and may be operated by people who are unfamiliar with it. What is the most effective and efficient way to ensure that the system is operated and maintained correctly in the field?

Challenge 4 - Secondary Uses: The sludge from the system, whilst no longer disease-causing, will only have undergone limited treatment and processing to improve its physical and chemical properties. What low cost techniques or technologies could be applied to enhance further disposal, treatment or reuse of the sludge in the field?

Challenge 5 - Other Markets: The system, which has been designed for the emergency response market, may also be appropriate for other markets that are yet to be explored or identified. What might these potential markets be, and how might they be targeted?

Check out this site for more general information about Share the Problem.


Fields of interest: Ecology, microbiology, development studies, environmental studies, water and waste management, anthropology, energy technology, biomedical sciences, industrial ecology, industrial design, marketing and business, and education.


A-Aqua AS is a leading international company providing cost effective, field-tested, safe drinking water systems and sanitation solutions for emergencies, development programs, and public infrastructure. Some of its best-selling products are purification units for different volumes, pillow/bladder tanks up to very large sizes, tap stands with self-closing taps, A-Aqua Emergency kits (micro-filters), and Jerry cans. Their solutions for both water supply and sanitation have been used in field hospitals, staff camps, and refugee camps. Field training is an important part of the expertise they provide to ensure long lasting use of products by end users. They have trained major UN organizations and teams of Red Cross/Red Crescent field workers with good references.

A-Aqua has been supplying UN Agencies, Red Cross/Red Crescent Movement, leading International organizations and NGO's since 1985. A-Aqua is also a qualified NOREPS (Norwegian Emergency Preparedness System) supplier. A-Aqua AS has production facilities in Norway, China and France and has a network of employees in a number of countries, such as India, China, Ivory Coast and Uganda.

A-Aqua has been a member of the Norwegian owned Malthe-Winje group of companies since 2008. 



Luke Dokter PW

Luke Dokter

Project Engineer, A-Aqua



Mads Bruun Høy

Client Director Innovation, Scandinavian Design Group


Øystein Hagen

Head of Innovation, Scandinavian Design Group