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By Diane Small
You’re lucky–today you washed in it, made a cuppa with it, and probably wasted quite a lot of it. But for many around the world, water is becoming more scarce than ever. And a lack of access to clean, safe drinking water is creating conflict, dividing communities and leaving millions dehydrated, ill and inconvenienced. By 2030 the UN estimates that half the world’s population will live in water stressed areas.
For some communities, their only access to water is the via the weekly visit of the water truck. For others, obtaining water can take hours from their working day as they travel miles to visit wells. And for many in the developing world, the water they drink is far from pure and may contain bugs or chemicals, which are detrimental to their health. Water is also an issue in regions from California to Australia to Abu Dhabi to Cyprus.
Today we estimate that there are over a billion people on the planet who don’t have constant access to clean safe water. That’s a billion too many. But luckily, there are some innovative companies coming up with solutions to the water crisis. Desolenator is one of them
Over 97% of the world’s water is in our seas and oceans with only 1% of the world’s water supply suitable for drinking. Unlike food or energy, water cannot be replaced or replenished – we have a finite amount of it on earth. With populations increasing exponentially and the effects of climate change growing, water is looking like THE critical resource issue facing humanity. What is clear is that if humanity is going to address the water crisis we must transform sea water into drinking water in a sustainable way–and that is exactly what Desolenator does.
Desolenator will provide families with the ability to turn salt water and contaminated water into pure drinking water. The technology has the potential to provide water independence for up to a billion people living in coastal and water stressed areas – using the power of the sun alone.
Many countries have already adopted large scale desalination technologies, but these are enormous plants that require huge costs to set up and to run as well as vast amounts of energy powered by fossil fuels. Did you know that whilst 0.7% of the worlds water supply comes from large scale desalination, its at the cost of 0.5% of the worlds total energy supply?
There are smaller ‘reverse osmosis’ systems on the market, but these come at a high capital cost and require significant maintenance and use of consumables such as filters. They also use a lot of energy.
Solar stills were invented over 200 years ago and can effectively desalinate water, however the yields are low and not sufficient to provide enough drinking water for a family over the long term. The capital cost of the Desolenator is still high for many people, but as the system lasts for up to 20 years, has no consumables, no filters, needs no energy and only requires basic maintenance, this cost can be mitigated.
The company is hoping that micro-finance, shared ownership and other schemes can allow communities in the developing world to access the Desolenator, and thereby provide clean water for them for two decades. Their first systems will be embedded with remote monitoring capabilities so that end users will be able to only pay a small amount on a pay per use basis and also the company can keep an eye on maintenance and servicing needs.
It may be a bit pricey, but given the increasing threat of draughts due to climate change, we think the Desolator is an idea that holds a lot of water indeed.
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