MushClean River Filtration System

Treehouse Learning



Selina Chew

Step 1 FEEL

1. 98% of tap water in our country comes from the rivers. Most of the time, when we turn on our taps, the water is brownish and sometimes have a chemical smell. We have also experienced water coming out from our shower with a rusty smell and the water was brown in colour. It was like bathing in muddy water. Due to the bad water quality, most Malaysians have to install water filters in their homes. Those who are able to afford, approximately 85% of Malaysians (having household income USD1,000 and above) install one or two water filters in their homes. However, the lower income people are unable to afford water filters. They continue to use this unfiltered water for their drinking, cooking washing and bathing, which may in turn affect their health. We would like to have clean water flowing into our taps, without the need to spend our own money installing water filters, which are expensive. 2. Since young, we loved playing in rivers whenever we go camping or trekking. Over time, we realised that more rivers are getting dirtier and it is uncomfortable for us to enjoy. Sometimes we even had rashes or diahorrea or fell ill from playing in the river. We would like to have clean river water that can be enjoyed by all people, from the cities to the villages. Rivers are important to the biodiversity they hold and a clean river also benefits animals who drink from it and the aquatic life in the river. 3. The government in our country only takes care of rivers that are used for consumption and does not take care of rivers that are not being used . 4. Rivers carry water and nutrients to areas all around the earth including for agriculture. As rivers drain nearly 75% of the earth's land surface, it is important to have clean rivers. Rivers also transport carbon into the ocean, where it is stored naturally in deep sea sediments for millions of years, hence helping to balance our climate. By improving water quality and by reducing pollution, this project supports Goal No. 6 of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals - Clean water and sanitation.

Step 2 Imagine

1. Spread awareness by creating a campaign. 2. Place cameras in the forest to monitor people who illegally throw waste into the rivers. 3. Clean the rivers with mycelia grown by ourselves. 4. Clean the rivers with mycelia from waste thrown out by mushroom farms. 5. Programme a drone that can throw mycelia balls into rivers. 6. Designing a blanket of mycelia that can unravel and cover the entire river. 7. Installing blocks of mycelia filter across the river. 8. Use a bamboo frame and mycelia blocks 9. Design a filter that can be placed on factory waste discharge pipes and can filter out the waste. 10. Plant water hyacinth, reed beds and coriander at the river in order to remove heavy metals from river water. 11. Use the sand filtration process to filter river water.

Step 3DO

We created a mycofilter by combining recycled materials such as recycled jute bags from our local grocery store, used coffee grounds that we saved from our home, and sawdust and mushroom spawn waste from a mushroom farm and dried leaves that we collected around our neighbourhood. By using recycled and organic materials, we hope to make a change and promote environmental sustainability, which is kinder to the Rainforests and the Planet. Then, we designed and built a wire mesh frame for our mycofilter, which we named MushClean. We installed MushClean into a sedimentation pond in Universiti Malaya which had river water flowing through it. The river contained water from drainages outside the university as well as from cafeterias and labs inside the university grounds. The river water flowed through the sedimentation pond and into the Varsity Lake.

We tested the water that was filtered through the MushClean mycofilters that were placed in University Malaya. Initially we found Lead, Copper and Iron in the water and after filtration, we found that MushClean mycofilters managed to remove / reduce the heavy metals. Below are the results: We have also attached a graph of how much heavy metals were removed from the water. 19 July 2020 Location before water goes through MushClean: Lead 31.25 Copper 1.5 Iron 2.5 Testing Location 1: Lead 20 Copper 0.33 Iron 1.67 Testing Location 2: Lead 13.33 Copper 0.33 Iron 1.67 25 July 2020 Location before water goes through MushClean: Lead 20 Copper 0.83 Iron1.67 Testing Location 1: Lead 8.33 Copper 0 Iron 0 Testing Location 2: Lead 10 Copper 0 Iron 0


“Such an inspiring project from such a wonderful, inspiring team.” “The students (young scientists) did an extremely good job in carrying out the project. It is an environmentally friendly treatment solution where it uses organic products. Not only that, the materials are low cost. It was a terrific project to replicate it in the local context where we have different environments. Moving forward, I can personally see that there is potential for this project to be upscaled.”

1. We knew very few things involving the river and water filtration making it difficult for us to implement our solution to work. We overcame it by talking with industry professionals that are experienced in the field. 2. We had written to several people, to seek further advice and guidance on our project, however most of them did not reply to us. We kept writing and thankfully there are some who are willing to help us at the end. 3. Getting someone to trust us to build our filter in their waters. Finding a suitable venue / river that we can leave the MushClean Filters in. We managed to get Mr Affan Nasurudin, head of Water Warriors in University Malaya to place the MushClean in University Malaya’s pond. 4. The 3-month Movement Control Order (MCO) in Malaysia due to the Covid-19 pandemic made it difficult for us to work on the project together physically. We had to learn to work through a zoom platform and learn to work in separate locations to build the project.


Clean water and sanitation

Step 4 SHARE

1. We created an instagram account for MushClean 2. MushClean was featured on Malaysian Nature Society’s Newsletter. 3. We gave a talk about MushClean using the zoom platform hosted by Malaysian Nature Society - Negeri Sembilan and Melaka Branch Nature Hero Series Webinar. 4. Sheldon gave a presentation to his teachers and classmates. Response from the people we shared our project with: “Wow, this is just awesome.” “A much needed invention. Well done Zhang En, Zhang Hui, Sheldon & Emerson. Imagine this can be used on a large scale.”