Senator John Heinz


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The Heinz Awards


Ashok Gadgil

Ashok Gadgil is recognized with a Heinz Award for his work as a researcher, inventor and humanitarian.

He is a professor of Civil and Environmental Engineering at Berkeley and leads a group at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory that works to understand airflow and pollutant transport in buildings. The work helps to reduce health risks, improve energy efficiency and enhance the quality of life in developing countries. Dr. Gadgil is known for creating simple inventions to solve fundamental environmental problems, such as an inexpensive and reliable water purification system and an improved cook stove for Darfur.

His UV Waterworks, an inexpensive and reliable water purification system suitable for rural villages and disaster relief, significantly reduces the risk of life-threatening diseases.  He also has devised the Berkeley-Darfur cook stove for safer indoor use in Darfur, Sudan, as well as a filter to remove arsenic from groundwater, which in some developing countries is present at toxic levels. The World Health Organization estimates that about two million people, mostly children, die each year in developing countries from diarrhea cased by contaminated water, and nearly a billion people lack access to drinkable water.

In 2005, the UC, Berkeley chapter of Engineers for a Sustainable World persuaded Dr. Gadgil to create a class on designing low-cost, sustainable infrastructure projects in regions with scarce resources. This popular class, which encourages students to consider political and social factors in their engineering decisions, routinely exceeds enrollment.

Dr. Gadgil is featured in the documentary film "Flow: For the Love of Water", a film highlighting the importance of water and depicting the battles between private industry and the public sector in bringing clean water to the world's people. His invention, which also is featured, produces 2.5 gallons of water for two cents and can be powered by a car battery. Dr. Gadgil's earlier work is chronicled in the 1999 documentary film "Me and Isaac Newton".

Note: This profile is excerpted from the commemorative brochure published at the time of the awards' presentation.


March 2014 - Ashok Gadgil to be inducted into 2014 class at the National Inventors Hall of Fame - National Inventors Hall of Fame

May 2011 - Ashok Gadgil has been awarded the Lifetime Achievement award of the 2012 Zayed Future Energy Prize. The $3.5 million Zayed Future Energy Prize recognizes and rewards innovation, leadership and long term vision in renewable energy and sustainability. - Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory

May 2011 - The winners of the 2011 European Inventor Award for Non-European countries (USA/India) are Ashok Gadgil and Vikas Garud. Considered the most prestigious prize for innovation in Europe, the European Inventor Award was launched in 2006 and is presented annually by the European Patent Office. Dr. Gadgil received the award for his shared work on the UV Waterworks, which, using gravity, a carefully planned hydraulics design and only a 40 watt UV light bulb, can disinfect 1,000 litres of water per hour. - European Patent Office

March 2011 - Olympus announced the 2011 winners in the Olympus Innovation Awards Program, which includes Ashok Gadgil, Andrew and Virginia Rudd Family Foundation Distinguished Chair and Professor of Safe Water and Sanitation, Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, University of California at Berkeley. - Olympus

August 2010 - Ashok Gadgil has been named the new Director of the Environmental Energy Technologies Division. In announcing the appointment, Berkeley Lab Director Paul Alivisatos wrote, "Division Director, Gadgil's leadership on energy and environmental research and his projects bringing solutions to the developing world will continue to align the division well with Berkeley Lab's energy and environmental initiatives." - Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory

January 2010 - Dr. Ashok Gadgil is this year's SAM/SPG Sustainability Pioneer Award winner. He is honored for his long-standing academic and entrepreneurial work in the area of hygienic drinking water. To counter the problem of poor water quality, a frequent cause of death in developing nations, Dr. Gadgil developed a water purification system using ultraviolet light that is cheap, safe, robust, efficient and simple to operate. - SAM/SPG

October 2009 - Professor Ashok Gadgil has been appointed to the Andrew and Virginia Rudd Family Foundation Endowed Chair in Safe Water and Sanitation, for a five year term, effective July 1, 2009. - University of California, Berkeley

Ashok Gadgil
Ashok Gadgil