Gallery: Hamster Ball-Shaped Solarball Uses the Sun to Purify Water


While you might mistake designer Jonathan Liow’s Solarball for a familiar hamster’s toy, it’s actually a really cool new product for  humans that purifies water using the sun. The Monash University graduate’s project is specifically geared towards aiding residents of underdeveloped areas with no clean drinking water, particularly small villages in Africa.

A trip to Cambodia spurred Liow’s desire to design a simple product that could help others, and that’s how the Solarball was born. Each ball can yield just over three quarts of clean drinking water each day if placed in the direct sun. Inside the ball, the dirty water evaporates away, separating the dirt and contaminants out. The resulting condensation is clean and drinkable. The small size is easy to carry, as well as affordable.

The design does pose a few problems. The size, although convenient and extremely portable, does not generate enough water for one person, let alone a village. Another factor is that the Solarball would need to be made of a durable plastic that can withstand constant exposure to the hot sun, and not become weakened easily. Although a great invention, it is not yet suitable to solve the water problem of an entire village.

A finalist in the 2011 Australian Design Award-James Dyson Award, the Solarball prototype will be on display at the Milan International Design Fair.

Via Tree Hugger


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  1. Sheryl Minter-Singu February 9, 2015 at 9:55 pm

    Great product!!!!

  2. Yvonne Bender November 25, 2013 at 1:09 am

    yes is there a glass version? a thick glass in a plastic shock proof cage?

  3. nsimoes12 August 24, 2012 at 11:54 am

    They may not die of thirst, but will certainly die from the BPA that releases from the plastic as it releases to water during sun exposure…and the males will get sterile with the amount of artificial oestrogens released fromt he plastic…what a good way of sterilizing the African people and reducing their population…keep inventing shit like this and u’ll go far…
    what about doin it in glass?!

  4. sasgapatan March 22, 2012 at 7:37 pm

    If i store there 3 litres of water and wait for the sun to evaporize and clean the water, how many litres of water will be left inside the solar ball? what if i put there a super contaminated water, will i be able to drink half of clean water in it or 1/4 of it only?

  5. wannatundra May 26, 2011 at 11:49 am

    Regardless of the size of it, the initial beginnings of it, Glad it is here now. Some countries lay plastic water bottles on corrugated tin and lay those on top of the tin in the sun to make it drinkable. after so many uses the plastic bottles break down and release chemicals into the water. Personally I would love to own a few for myself.

  6. davidkarkut May 5, 2011 at 1:12 pm

    This was an invention of Les Fairn in 2008 actually. See this article in Canadian Business.

    McClearn, M. (2008, September 29). Water distiller. Canadian Business, 81(16).

  7. caeman March 25, 2011 at 10:23 am

    One ball does not generate enough water for one person, but it’s just a cheap plastic ball. Two of them will supply one person with the 4 to 6 liters per day for survival.

  8. mook73 March 24, 2011 at 8:18 pm

    i will call it innovation rather than invention. using evaporation to capture clean water is an age old practice. survival training taught us that using just nylon tents. we need something that works faster and produces more water.

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