Reinventing water purification – Ahlstrom



For hundreds of millions of people around the world, access to potable water is a daily struggle. A new nanofiltration technology produced by Ahlstrom might change this. How might we combine technology, business and design to bring this disruptive filtering innovation to the growing number of people who are in desperate need of better purification solutions?


Ahlstrom is a high performance fiber-based materials company, partnering with leading businesses around the world. We aim to grow with a product offering for clean and healthy environment. Ahlstrom Disruptor® is an electrodsorptive technology for water purification and filtration.


The main goal of this project is to create solid solutions to this fluid problem. Ahlstrom’s Disruptor® technology has several technical advantages and competitive pricing, allowing the creation of efficient, convenient, affordable, and desirable filtration products for the base of the pyramid market. The focus is to develop an achievable and scalable solution to a complex problem, while ensuring desirability, technical feasibility and economic viability.


Every day you open your tap knowing that fresh and clean drinking water will come out. What if that wasn’t the case? What if that water was contaminated and you would have to boil it before drinking? Or what if there was no water at all? This is the reality for more than 2 billion people around the world (BoP Innovation Center, 2011).

One of the main parts of this project was to visit Dar es Salaam, the most prominent city in Tanzania with a population of around 5 million people, in February 2015, to feel and understand how people manage to live with scarce and contaminated water.

In Dar es Salaam, people going around with buckets and jerry cans filled with water is a very common sight. As the infrastructure of the city is unable to keep up with the urban overcrowding, selling and transporting water has become a significant business. The problem is that most of this water is contaminated or becomes contaminated during the transportation. As the water is unsafe, the locals use charcoal for boiling it and thus making it safer to drink. But charcoal is problematic: besides being increasingly expensive, the use of charcoal leads to health, safety, and environmental issues. Needless to mention, boiling doesn’t remove all the harmful contaminants from the water that might cause adverse health effects in the long-term.




Team IDBM: Xia Liang (Business), Fabiano Brito (Engineering), Sanna Puhakainen (Business), Jymy Parhiala (Design), Annaleena Hämäläinen (Design),

Team Sustainable Global Technologies Programme: Tsui-Fan Tseng (Business), Meri Nihtilä (Biochemistry), Miina Rautiainen (Engineering), Arturs Alsins (Engineering), Emma-Sofie Kukkonen (Design), Salvador Hernandez (Architecture)