Today, nearly 1 billion people in the developing world don't have access to clean, safe drinking water. One in three people in the world (2.3 Billion) don't have access to a decent toilet. In fact, there are more cellphones in the world than there are toilets. We have the technology and funds to end poverty and the world water crisis. All we need is human willpower. Here are a few Difference Makers that are changing and saving lives.
The Solar Light Lantern
Inventor: Evans Wadongo
Kenyan Engineer, Co-Founder of GreenWize energy Ltd., Executive Director and Founder of Sustainable Development For All (SDFA– Kenya). Motto: Use Solar, Save Lives.
Evans Wadongo is something of a national hero in Kenya. But the engineer and businessman has also garnered international attention for the innovative design of his MwangaBora solar lamp, which is helping to create a sustainable economy in rural areas.
Evans grew up in rural Kenya. The youngest of four children, he was raised in a mud home with no electricity or running water. Evans was expected to work hard in school and get good grades.
He shared a single kerosene lantern with his brothers and other family members at night, but the dim light emitted from the kerosene lamp was too weak for everyone to use at the same time. Evans remembers how they used to fight over who was going to get to use the lamp. Often, Evans had to go to sleep in frustration, unable to complete his homework or study as much as he wished.
To this day, many children in rural Kenya who have limited access to lamps drop out of school because they feel incapable of learning new material and keeping up with other children. There are health consequences too. A child must be directly over the kerosene lantern to use the light to read. For Evans, the fumes from the kerosene caused damage to his eyes, and his vision has been permanently impaired. Blindness, as well as respiratory diseases, and lung and throat cancers are common results of kerosene fume exposure.
Evans discovered his invention in 2004, while attending a Kenyan university for agriculture and technology. He was fiddling with a dorm experiment involving the timing of LED (light-emitting diode) Christmas lights. Then, it struck him: The environmentally friendly light source could be used to light rural homes.While walking home from visiting a friend, Wadongo stumbled upon a broken-off piece of a discarded solar panel. With it, he was able to light a small number of LEDs. Thus was born the Solar Light Latern.
$5 Solar Water Purification Evaporation Device
Inventor: Qiaogiang Gan, electrical engineer at State University of New York (SUNY), Buffalo and Zhejun Liu, scholar at SUNY, Buffalo
This system allows a 1-square-meter-sized device to purify 1 liter of water per hour, which is about four times faster than commercially available versions. Gan and his colleague report that the setup not only works, but that it’s 88 per cent efficient at channeling the energy in sunlight into evaporation water.
How To Build the Device
Manufactures start with a fiber-rich paper, sort of like the paper used to make currency. They coat this with carbon black, a cheap powder left over after the incomplete combustion of oil or tar.
Next, the take a block of polystyrene foam – the stuff used to make coffee cups – and cut slices through it, making 25 connect sections. The foam floats on the untreated water and acts as an insulating barrier to prevent sunlight from heating up too much of the water below.
The paper wets the entire top surface of each of the 25 sections. Evaporated water is trapped by a clear acrylic cover and funneled into a collection vessel. Dirt, gunk and other pollutants don’t evaporate and are left behind.
Gan estimates the materials needed to build the device cost roughly $1.60 per square meter (as of July 5, 2017), compared with $200 per square meter for pre-existing models. At that price, providing the minimal water needed for a family of four might coast as little as $5 for the raw materials per device.
Safe Drinking Water Out of Thin Air
Inventor: Arturo Vittori, Warka Water Tower
Providing remote villages with more than 25 gallons of clean drinking water per day.
In some parts of Ethiopia (Africa), finding safe drinking water is a six-hour journey. And even when it’s found, the water is often not safe, collected from ponds or lakes teeming with infectious bacteria, contaminated with animal waste or other harmful substances.
Supplying drinking water in a way that's both practical and convenient is the impetus for Arturo Vittori’s “Warka Water Tower” — an inexpensive, easily-assembled structure, made from biodegradable materials, easy to clean, can be erected without mechanical tools in less than a week, and extracts 25 gallons of fresh water per day from the air.
The invention from Arturo, an industrial designer, and his colleague Andreas Vogler, doesn't involve complicated gadgetry or feats of engineering, but instead relies on basic elements like shape and material and the ways in which they work together.
At first glance, the 30-foot-tall, vase-shaped towers, named after a fig tree native to Ethiopia, have the look and feel of a showy art installation. But every detail, from carefully-placed curves to unique materials, has a functional purpose.
The rigid outer housing of each tower is comprised of lightweight and elastic juncus stalks, woven in a pattern that offers stability in the face of strong wind gusts while still allowing air to flow through. A mesh net made of nylon or polypropylene, which calls to mind a large Chinese lantern, hangs inside, collecting droplets of dew that form along the surface. As cold air condenses, the droplets roll down into a container at the bottom of the tower. The water in the container then passes through a tube that functions as a faucet, carrying the water to those waiting on the ground.
Initially, costs were estimated to be about $500 USD to set up a tower. Now, according to Warka Water's website, the cost is doubled to $1,000 USD.
Carbon nanotube material removes 99% of heavy metals from water
(Natural News - August 1, 2017) A set of innovative filters were found to eliminate up to 99 percent of heavy metals in contaminated water. The filters, produced in a Rice University laboratory, was developed from carbon nanotube materials that were grown in place on chemically-epoxidized quartz fibers. Lab findings showed that the filter was able to absorb more than 99 percent of metals from water samples contaminated with heavy metals such as cadmium, cobalt and copper as well as mercury, nickel and lead.
According to the scientists, one gram of the material could treat 83,000 liters of contaminated water in order to meet World Health Organization (WHO) standards. This was enough to provide clean water for 11,000 people on a daily basis. The research team also noted that scaled-up versions of the filters can treat up to five liters of water in less than one minute and be renewed in 90 seconds. In addition, the filters were able to retain 100 percent of its capacity after treating up to 70 liters of water per 100 grams of the material. Once the filters get saturated, can be washed with a mild household chemical like vinegar and reused, the researchers added.
“Every culture on the planet knows how to make vinegar. This would make the biggest social impact on village-scale units that could treat water in remote, developing regions. However, there is also the potential to scale up metal extraction, in particular from mine wastewater,” chemist Andrew Barron told ScienceDaily.com.
Another nanobot proves water treatment is nanotechnology’s next big project
The recent material is the only recent addition to the nanotechnology industry’s growing number of innovative projects designed to improve water quality. Just this year, a team of researchers designed spherical microbots called Janus designed to kill harmful bacteria and other microorganisms in the water. The spherical, “two-faced” microbots were made up of magnesium on one side and alternating layers of gold and iron topped by silver nanoparticles on the other.
The magnesium face was made to generate hydrogen bubbles upon contact with water. Because of this reaction, the microbots are propelled around contaminated water. On the other hand, the researchers noted that the water-borne bacteria will stick to the alternating gold and iron face, which would then be killed by the silver nanoparticles.
The research team then examined how the microbots will do in a lab setting. The analysis showed that the nanobots could “swim” around the contaminated water for 15 to 20 minutes before the magnesium-containing side gets spent. Likewise, the scientists noted that the technology was able to trap more than 80 percent of E. coli bacteria. The microbots have magnetic properties, which were largely due in part to their iron content. As a result, the nanobots could be easily removed from the water using magnets, but will not leave behind any potentially harmful components.
"Water contamination is one of the most persistent problems of public health. Resistance of some pathogens to conventional disinfectants can require the combination of multiple disinfectants or increased disinfectant doses, which may produce harmful byproducts. Here, we describe an efficient method for disinfecting Escherichia coli and removing the bacteria from contaminated water using water self-propelled Janus microbots…After capture and extermination of bacteria, magnetic properties of the cap allow collection of microbots from water along with the captured dead bacteria, leaving water with no biological contaminants. The presented biocompatible Janus microbots offer an encouraging method for rapid disinfection of water," the researchers said in an article posted on the American Chemical Society‘s website. (Source: Natural News, August 1, 2017