Paper made at WMU to provide clean water for impoverished countries

Western Michigan University Folia paper filter
The paper filter produced at Western Michigan University will provide clean water for just pennies.


KALAMAZOO, Mich. (WOOD) — If there’s one thing Western Michigan University Pilot Plants manager Lon Pschigoda knows, it’s paper.

“We are experts in paper making. That’s what we do every day,” Pschigoda said Friday.

But their newest project is unlike any he’s worked on before.

Last fall, Pittsburgh-based Folia reached out to WMU to help produce its new paper technology, designed to filter dirty water for people living in impoverished countries.

“There are approximately 4 billion people in the world that are living on less than $1,500 a year, and a lot of those people do not have access to clean, fresh water,” Pschigoda said.

The small-scale trial run at Western was a success. Soon, the paper produced at the school will be sent out to countries across the world.

The new creation costs users just pennies each day to use.

“There will be a booklet which will contain 100 or so sheets, where they can tear one sheet out and filter 100 liters of water, and have clean water for weeks at a time off of a single filter,” Pschigoda explained.

How far the new paper technology will reach is still unknown. But WMU can now put their stamp on something that could make the world a better place for millions and possibly billions of people.

“When we have something like this, where we’re helping people all around the world – not just making somebody’s life better with tissue or paper – but making somebody’s life safer. Healthier kids don’t have to miss school, people won’t have to miss work; (it’ll) keep people out of hospitals. It’s very, very cool,” Pschigoda said.

While students didn’t produce the paper, they helped clean and maintain the machines, which is still an important role in making the project possible.

In January, people will even be able to go online and donate a booklet to an entire village in a third world country.