With 3.575 million people dying each year from water-related disease, our current water crisis is one of epic proportions. At any given time, half of the world’s hospital beds are occupied by those suffering from illness brought on by limited access to safe drinking water, poor hygiene and sanitation. Granted these harrowing realities plaguing our society, it’s imperative that designers, inventors, engineers and visionaries do what they can to find a solution. Fortunately, there’s no shortage of innovation on tap – read on for six water purifying designs for the developing world!
The Lifestraw is a small cigar-shaped tube packed with some truly innovative engineering. This clever design purifies water from potential pathogens like typhoid, cholera, dysentery and diarrhea – all before they reach your lips. The Lifestraw is an inexpensive way to deliver potable water to those in need, and it is considered an icon of humanitarian product design – it was included in Cooper Hewitt’s Design for the Other 90% exhibition, which featured products, architecture, and technology that’s have a positive impact on under-privileged demographics around the world.
2. Ceramic Water Filters
In 2008 UNICEF and the Water and Sanitation Program were given the Project Innovation Award Grand Prize by the International Water Association for providing Cambodia with ceramic water filters. These water purification devices, made and distributed by Cambodian nationals, resulted in a 50 percent drop in diarrheal illnesses since they were first employed back in 2002. Developed in a joint effort between WSP and UNICEF, the filters are made from fired clay, and the tiny pores of the ceramic material are small enough to remove virtually all bacteria and protozoa. The design utilizes gravity to facilitate the filtration process, resulting in a flow rate of 1-3 liters per hour.
+ Field Report on Ceramic Filters in Cambodia [PDF]
3. Water Purifying Bicycle
Japan’s Nippon Basic Company recently introduced what they are calling, the “Cycloclean,” a water-purifying bike initially designed for use in remote villages and disaster zones. The Cycloclean harness kinetic energy to purify water, and users can ride the bike to any nearby body of water for immediate access to a source of potable drinking water.
4. Life Sack
Jung Uk Park, Myeong Hoon Lee, and Dae Youl Lee are the industrial designers behind the ingenious water purification device know as the Life Sack. Not only does this clever design purify water — it also doubles as a container for shipping grains and other food staples. Once the package of food is received, it can then be used as a solar water purification kit. To filter contaminated water the Life sack uses SODIS (Solar Water Disinfection Process) technology: UV-A-radiation and the bag’s thermal treatment process work together to kill deadly microorganisms and bacteria in water. The sack can also be worn as a backpack for quick and easy movement from the source to the community.
5. “Pure” Water Bottle Filters Water With UV Rays
While traveling in Zambia, Timothy Whitehead was exposed to a water purification process that left him both concerned and perplexed. This process required 30 minutes, and used chlorine and iodine tablets to produce water that although safe to drink was terrible in taste. Inspired to develop an alternative solution, he came up with the Pure Water Bottle – a device that is capable of filtering soiled water in two minutes by using a combination of 4 micron-sized water filters and a wind-up ultraviolet light system. This combinations removes up to 99.9% of impurities from any water source, and it could be a valuable asset for people in developing nations.
6. Hamster Ball-Shaped Solarball
Designed by Jonathan Liow, a graduate student at Monash University, the Solar Ball is a spherical shaped device that utilizes the power of the sun to purify water. Inspired by a trip to Cambodia, Liow sought to aid underdeveloped populations that lack access to clean drinking water. When placed in the sun, the Solarballuses evaporation to separate dirt and contaminants. The resulting condensations yields just over three quarts of potable water per day. The ball is inexpensive and relatively small in size, making it easy to transport