This year’s West Coast Green was host to a dizzying array of innovative ideas, not the least of which was the Aquaduct Concept Vehicle by IDEO. Winner of the ’08 Innovate or Die competition sponsored by Google and Specialized, the Aquaduct is “a pedal-powered concept vehicle that transports, filters, and stores water.” Pedal to the well, fill up the tank and by the time you’re home you have 8 liters of purified water.

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Safe and secure sources of drinking water are a growing worldwide concern. According to the W.H.O., “1.1 billion people have no access to any type of improved drinking source of water.” As a result, a growing number of health issues face developing countries such as diarrhoeal disease, schistosom`iasis, trachoma, intestinal helminths (ascariasis, trichuriasis and hookworm) and hepatitis A.

The Aquaduct is designed to address all these issues and more. It works by using a pedal-driven peristaltic pump to drive water from its trunk through a filter into a clean tank. The bike can carry enough water for an entire family, and can filter while moving or stationary.

In its present configuration it is not a feasible solution for most developing communities due to production costs and durability. But in fairness to the IDEO team, they have stated that, “In its current state, the Aquaduct is a prototype aimed squarely at demonstrating a concept and raising awareness around the issues of clean water in developing countries. The Aquaduct team plans to continue the concept’s development into an economically and technologically viable solution that addresses challenges such as cost, suitable purification technologies, and the logistics of addressing an issue that [affects] billions.”

In the face of this growing crisis, IDEO has managed to design an innovative and elegant tool to aid in the struggle for safe and secure drinking water. With a little luck, and some help from groups on the ground in targeted locations, the Aquaduct might just find a place in the fight for healthy, sustainable living conditions in the developing world. We wish them the best of luck!

+ Aquaduct