Water Purification and the Developing World

In my heart of hearts I believe that most of the problems with the world are solvable through good governance. But creating institutions that reliably constrain human excess and focus energy into productive channels is very hard work. Too many people, bad people, can profit if they help create a system designed to fail. And so time and time again we see systems designed to fail and we watch as millions suffer while a few make out, literally, like bandits.

But lack of access to fresh water is a simple problem that can be solved unless leaders shift from being merely greedy to being actively evil. I mentioned in the headline “the developing world” because that’s where the issue is most pressing. If all the fresh water in Arizona dries up tomorrow the people there have plenty of places to flee to (for now). As poor as some people are in this country almost none of them are as poor as the median person in the developing world. Nevertheless, technologies like the ones posted here are going to be important for Americans too and I believe that will be the case sooner rather than later.

Anyway, many of you have probably seen the Slingshot that Segway inventor Dean Kamen demonstrated on the Colbert show a couple of years ago. These bad boys are great, but my understanding is they require too much power to be easily installed in the most rural areas.

Now there’s this, still in the prototype phase, but it looks very promising. “This can purify 35 liters of water in five minutes using only the power required to light a 100 watt bulb;” and it might sell for ~$100. If it can really purify 35 liters of water a day, that makes it about 8X more productive than the Slingshot and significantly less expensive. Probably doesn’t have the purification power of the Slingshot, but most places that need water probably don’t need quite that level of filtration anyway.

Trailer “Water Plasma Sanitation System” from Centro de Innovacion utpch on Vimeo.

This could be a game changer.