Drinking water is scarce in many parts of the world. Up to 2.1 billion people do not have access to this essential resource and climate change is making the situation worse. These innovations could help.
Drinking water without electricity
In many parts of the world the problem is not water scarcity, but available water is contaminated. This is not surprising, considering that 80% of wastewater in developing and emerging countries is not treated. This is where devices like the SunSpring Hybrid come in. The shiny cylinder houses a filtration system that can convert more than 20,000 liters of dirty water into drinking water daily.
Perhaps the most important thing is its rapid installation anywhere, as long as there is a water source such as a river or a well nearby. Thanks to the built-in solar panels and an optional wind turbine, the system does not need a power supply. In addition, it works for ten years without maintenance, making it ideal for remote regions without connection to the electricity grid, or places that have been affected by extreme weather events or other natural disasters.
There are also places where dirty water is even scarce, such as in the Atacama Desert in northern Chile, or in parts of the Atlas Mountains in Morocco. However, those places have a lot of fog in common. Unfortunately you can’t drink the fog, can you? Mist collectors make the seemingly impossible possible.
As the mist passes through the dense vertical nets, tiny water droplets become trapped between the fibers and slowly drip through the mesh into a collection tank. The idea is not new, but several researchers are working to make fog pickers more efficient and durable.
Do not pull the cistern
It’s not just about getting clean water. It is also important to use it sparingly. One place where we waste a lot of water is the bathroom. A single discharge from a traditional U.S. toilet can consume up to 26 liters of precious resource. At the same time, a third of the world’s population still does not have access to a toilet, which places a huge burden on the environment and poses serious public health risks. So how can we provide toilets to those who don’t have them and avoid using so much water when pulling the cistern?
The nano membrane toilet could be the solution. The high-tech toilet does not use water or external energy. In contrast, it converts excrement into clean (but not drinkable) water and ash, using “biomass” as an energy source in the process. As futuristic as it may sound, it’s not a chimera. The design of cranfield University researchers, who have won the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation’s “Reinventing the Toilet” contest, is already testing prototypes under real-world conditions.
About 97.2 percent of our planet’s water is salty, and therefore unsuitable for food cultivation. Leilah Clarke, a design student at the University of Sussex, wanted to change this reality and has designed a kind of floating buoy as a greenhouse, which generates its own fresh water.
The idea is quite simple: buoys float in the sea and seawater evaporates under them. Moisture rises through the glass hood and, when the glass hits, the water condenses, runs through the walls of the hood and waters the plants that grow inside. It is still a prototype, but floating greenhouses like this, off the coast of desert areas, could provide food without depleting groundwater shortages.