Clean water. Affordable housing. Renewable energy. These are just a few of the pressing needs that can be met by design. All around the world, people have come up with innovative solutions to life’s problems using affordable, readily available materials and technologies. Read on for a look at seven simple designs that meet these challenges and more.
You might think the Tesla Powerwall has home renewable energy storage under control, but a few creative people have decided to do it themselves, drawing on recycled laptop batteries to make their own home storage devices that cost less than the Tesla option – solving an issue and reducing waste at the same time. They’ve shared their designs online so others can also benefit.
Climate control is an issue people worldwide face, but those living in rural areas don’t always have access to the air conditioners we may have. In Bangladesh, inventor Ashis Paul repurposed plastic soda bottles to design the Eco Cooler: a cooling system that requires no power. His company has already installed them in around 25,000 homes.
Humans will probably always need affordable, sustainable housing. The World’s Advanced Saving Project is working to meet these needs with their BigDelta, a massive printer that 3D prints houses for almost zero cost out of mud and clay. The organization draws inspiration from the mud dauber wasp, which builds its homes from mud.
3D printing innovators Emerging Objects created a home-cooling solution called the Cool Brick. The ceramic device only needs water to cool down a house in a dry, hot climate – and works based on evaporative cooling systems utilized all the way back around 2,500 BC.
When you can switch on a tap and water gushes out, it’s easy to take clean water for granted. But people around the world lack access to clean drinking water, and UNICEF and the Water and Sanitation Program teamed up to bring it to people in Cambodia. Their ceramic water filters, manufactured and distributed by Cambodians, resulted in a 50 percent fall in diarrheal illness after they were implemented. The ceramic water purifiers cost around $7.50 to $9.50 per system, according to a report from both organizations, and replacement filters cost around $2.50 to $4.
Evaporative cooling was also put to work in India in an artistic, energy efficient cooling solution designed by Ant Studio for a DEKI Electronics factory. Conical terracotta tubes comprise the installation, and when water is run over them – once or twice a day – evaporation helps lower the temperature.
Remember those creatives who design their own Powerwall-like devices? Business owner Jehu Garcia is one, and he also put his technological know-how to work to try and combat Puerto Rico’s electricity crisis in the wake of Hurricane Maria. He posted a YouTube video detailing his design for a solar generator costing around $550, including the cost of a solar panel and light bulbs. He teamed up with a contact in Puerto Rico, asking people to build the generators and send them or parts.