Margaret Lengerich

The war against arsenic

People all over the world could be saved from drinking arsenic contaminated water thanks to a novel filtration system created by the Chilean engineer Margaret Lengerich.  Her solution was recognized by the prestigious international magazine MIT Technology Review, which found her deserving of the Innovators Under 35 Chile 2016 awarded by the Spanish language MIT Technology Review.

Millions of people worldwide unknowingly drink arsenic contaminated water.  The worst case is Bangladesh.  According to Human Rights Watch 43 thousand people die due to complaints related to the consumption of water contaminated with this toxic chemical.

In order to beat this silent global threat, the Chilean engineer Margaret Lengerich created a revolutionary system which eliminates arsenic from water in an efficient and cheaper way.

Her creation is HM Solution, a solution which can process 19 liters of water per minute, filtering out arsenic to undetectable levels “inferior to two parts per thousand million parts of water” (the standard set by the World Health Organization (WHO) is 0.01 parts per million parts of water).

The distinguished Chilean professional studied this system thought of by professor Joseph Calo whilst studying for her masters in innovation and entrepreneurship at Brown University, United States.  “I worked with him and developed a prototype”, states the industrial engineer from the Universidad del Desarrollo de Concepción, who patented her results in the United States where she also founded her own company.

Her project was recognized by the international magazine MIT Technology Review, which also included research by six other Chilean scientists.  This recognition, on a global scale, has been given previously to the now famous Mark Zuckerberg, creator of Facebook, and Sergei Brin, who created Google.

Before this innovative proposal, Margaret Lengerich fulfilled the role of project leader in the company QUAM and was in charge of the technologies management department at Gerdau AZA.  She currently lives in Germany.

Given the social focus of the enterprise, Margaret points out in an interview that “the long term goal is further reaching.  The idea is to implement this system where people most need it and also help those who use water from wells in their homes.  We want to help all of them to eliminate this toxic chemical”.