Monday, September 17, 2012
Solar Still Oven Turns Salt Water Into Clean Drinking Water
The global fresh water availability crisis is something we all know about, but often times it’s not until you’re traveling the globe and witnessing the effects of it firsthand that you genuinely understand the intensity of what’s happening. That’s what happened with Italian designer Gabrielle Diamanti, whose travels as a graduate student caused a keen desire to help increase accessibility to clean drinking water.
Diamanti decided to use his design skills to create a device that would help people in nations with unsanitary drinking water. The Eliodomestico is an open source design for a solar still that works like an upside-down coffee percolator. It inexpensively and easily desalinates salt water, which could make a huge difference in nations where salt water is abundant but fresh water is not.
There are three main pieces to the ceramic oven. The top container is where the salt water is poured, and as the sun heats it and creates steam, the pressure build-up pushes the steam through a pipe in the middle. The steam condenses against the lid of the basin at the bottom and drips into a collection that is safe for drinking, making about five liters a day.
Diamanti used terracotta to build his prototypes for about $50, but the good thing about the design is that craftspeople can use any type of material that is abundant and affordable where they live.
Solar still technology is nothing new, particularly in developing nations, but it is mostly used on a much larger scale in hospitals or water desalination plants that serve large communities. The great thing about the Eliodomestico is that it is accessible to individual families who can easily make their own drinking water and offer it to others in their community.
I love that this is the second recent innovation in clean water accessibility in a short period of time. At this rate, it won’t be long before the more than 1 billion people who lack clean drinking water will no longer have to suffer without it.