Gravity Driven Water Filter

Mission was to design a water filter that would support a family of four in an emergency situation. The assumptions of no external power, access to heavily polluted water, and an appropriate daily volumetric flowrate were made. As a group project, our team first performed background research, studying existing products in the same field. Next, we proposed several preliminary designs and utilized Morph and Pugh charts to sort essential features. We also built several soft prototypes and compared them within our group, presenting our best design to the class. Once we settled on a final design we ordered parts, assembled them, and ran several tests using differing qualities of water. Our filter easily cleaned Charles River water which was of particularly poor quality during our testing period. The final filter surpassed all design goals and was built at a lower cost compared to another competing group in the class.

Filter Design

  • PVC bodies and adapters.
  • 3D printed filter cartridges assembled with filter paper and media.
  • Segmented design for different filter stages.
  • Funnel at output.
  • Strap for easy transport.

Filter media stages: sand, activated carbon, ion-exchange resin. All stages included filter paper.

General Project Description

Complete Project Report


  • Work on a multidisciplinary team.
  • Design product for humanitarian cause that meets design specifications.
  • Operate under a firm design budget.
  • Use resources in BU's EPIC workshop to build prototype.
  • Formally present final prototype and compose full design report.

Typical filter unit with PVC body and adapters. This particular unit has the funnel at the output. Filter cartridges were fit between the PVC and adapters inside the press fit connection. Units screw together, allowing design customization.

Sand filter cartridge top view.

Sand filter cartridge bottom view.

3D printed filter cartridges.

Assembled filter cartridge.

Complete filter undergoing testing.