663 million people lack access to clean water—that’s about one in ten people worldwide, and nearly double the population of the United States. Fortunately, Kohler just unveiled KOHLER Clarity, an effective and beautiful filtration system that can purify drinking water anywhere in the world, without electricity. Created in collaboration with World Vision, iDE, and Water Mission, the KOHLER Clarity filter eliminates over 99 percent of contaminants and costs less than a penny per person per day to operate.
Unveiled at Greenbuild 2015, the simple yet powerful KOHLER Clarity combines the company’s design prowess and engineering ingenuity to create a product that’s not only affordable enough to put in the hands of the millions who live without clean water, but is also attractive enough to bring to market. The device, which follows global health leader PATH’s C1 filter guidelines, can filter up to 40 liters (10.5 gallons) of water per day (meeting the drinking water needs of a typical family) at a rate of over 2 liters per hour.
The key to the KOHLER Clarity is the ceramic filter. While using this kind of ceramic for water filtration is not new, Kohler is the first to repackage the ceramic filter in an affordable and attractive form. The ceramic is made from Diatomaceous earth—a crumbly and porous sedimentary deposit formed from the billion-year-old fossils called diatoms—mined from the ocean floor. After a small amount of bonding agent is added to the earth, the material is fused together once fired in a kiln.
The KOHLER Clarity works on gravity alone to purify water, removing pathogens and turbidity to meet the World Health Organization’s interim-level requirements. The treatment tank, located on top, holds 11 liters (2.9 gallons) of dirty water that flows into a clean 12-liter (3.1-gallon) reservoir. The blue lid that tops the tank is embossed with pictographic instructions for using the device—an important feature in case the user is illiterate. The KOHLER Clarity can be easily assembled to a height of just under two feet, and can be taken apart, cleaned, and nested for shipping. The filter cartridge has an estimated life span of up to one year of typical use and is made with silver for additional anti-microbial properties.
“Our goal with KOHLER Clarity is to provide a filter extremely efficient at creating safe drinking water that also becomes a fixture of convenience and dignity in a home,” said Mike Radloff, Senior Project Manager-Water Technologies. “Kohler engineers and designers love a challenge and have high standards. In two years, we’ve been able to bring together teams around the world to use our expertise in plumbing to develop and bring to market this solution.” Field testing for the filter has begun with World Vision in India and Africa in November. The product is expected to be released in January to Kohler partners World Vision, iDE, and Water Mission.
Images © Lucy Wang