Water is life – without a source of clean water for drinking and cooking, humans become very sick and often die. In wealthy countries, clean drinking water is taken for granted. In developing countries, accessing water often means walking long distances, and there are no guarantees about how clean it will be once you get there. Austrian social enterprise start-up Helioz has developed a low-cost device that uses solar power to disinfect questionable water. The WADI detects and calculates the intensity of water-purifying UV rays, and it lets users know as soon as the water is safe to drink.

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WADI, Helioz, Water, water purification, water disinfection, safe drinking water, solar powered, India, waterborne illness

Helioz isn’t just another technology start-up. It’s “a dedicated team of medical doctors, economists, scientific researchers and project coordinators with partners around the globe [working] to bring safe water to people living at the bottom of the pyramid.”

This depth allows the company to go beyond the water purification tools that have already been tried in the market. They understand that to truly make a difference in the lives of the millions who live without access to clean water, they need to simplify the design so that it’s cheap and less likely to break or need replacement parts.

WADI is a device developed to show the progress of solar water disinfection in a PET bottle without the use of chemicals, batteries or filters. WADI uses the SODIS method to purify contaminated water, in which UV-A rays in sunlight are employed to kill germs such as viruses, bacteria and parasites. Instead of leaving users wondering whether they’ve left water in the sun long enough for total purification, the WADI measures the UV radiation of the sun and in doing so calculates the duration of the disinfection process. “As soon as enough radiation has hit the bottle, WADI lets the user know that the water is safe to drink” with a status bar and smiley face on the display. When the water’s smiley, it’s ready to drink!

The WADI has already been tested in India and Africa and according to Austria’s largest health-care NPO the Arbeiter Samariter Bund, “WADI is a viable solution for clean and safe drinking water, especially for the impoverished rural population.”

Helioz wants to conduct a comprehensive Health Impact Study in India to provide large-scale evidence of WADI’s effectiveness in reducing waterborne diseases, with the potential to save hundreds of thousands of lives each year. They company is in the midst of an Indiegogo crowdfunding campaign to raise funds for additional research.