One of the most basic human needs is clean drinking water, which for millions of people in developing countries is simply not available. Without access to clean water, the population is vulnerable to water-borne diseases, something as simple as dysentery killing thousands every year.
Unfortunately, getting clean water to these people is often expensive and inconvenient. The people who need these systems often cannot afford them or don’t have access to the materials required to build them. There are water treatment systems that are available and work well, but once you consider the cost, up to millions of dollars in some cases, clean water remains an expensive dream.
A good water treatment system, though, doesn’t have to be expensive or complicated. The KISS acronym [Keep It Simple, Stupid] works well in the case of trying to get clean water to the millions who need it most, and don’t have the resources to build or buy more expensive and expansive treatment systems.
A General Electric engineer and the non-profit organization, WaterStep, and a number of volunteers have been working over the last year to build a simple and effective water treatment system. The WaterStep M-100 Chlorinator is made from easily obtainable parts, and runs off a common car battery. This simple and inexpensive water treatment system could be perfect for use in developing countries. It works on the simple process of electrolysis, which extracts chlorine gas from seawater.
“The device fits inside a 10-inch PVC cylinder with two plastic tubes attached at the top. It strips chlorine from salt water by… electrolysis. The chlorine bubbles off one of the electrodes and floats to the top where the device captures it and mixes it with contaminated water. The chlorine begins to oxidize organic matter and kills the pathogens in the water. The water is usually safe to drink two hours after chlorination.” – GE Reports
The chlorine gas then bubbles through the dirty water supply, killing organics including bacteria, virii, and parasites. This very simple system can treat about 10,000 gallons per day, which is about the minimum requirement for daily human consumption. Currently, WaterStep is working on reducing the power requirements to be able to run it on a smaller battery or even a solar panel.