You've heard the numbers before of how many people don't have access to clean drinking water (It's 783 million by the way) and how that makes you think twice about leaving the facet on or taking a long shower or even not finishing those disposable bottled waters (which you shouldn't be using!). And that stuffs all fine and dandy, but what about the REAL stuff going on. Are people doing anything at the core of the problem? Well check out these five awesome things technology is doing for the future of water:
1. Desalinization is becoming efficient
For a long time desalinization was thought to be a great idea but way too expensive. You could get great clean drinking water by removing the salt from it but it just wasn't efficient enough. Plus what are you going to do with all that salt?!
The largest desalination plant in the Western Hemisphere is currently under construction in Carlsbad in San Diego County. The Carlsbad Desalination Project website says it, "will provide San Diego County with a locally-controlled, drought-proof supply of high-qu
ality water that meets or exceeds all state and federal drinking water standards."
San Diego County has 3.211 million people. That's a lot of people. All powered by desalinized water...
If we can do that, imagine what even more desalinization plants like this can do?
2. Toilets are getting smart
Caltech engineers and Kohler designers have teamed up to tackle the toilet technology problem. Huh. Who would have thought, a toilet technology problem? The Gates Foundation held aReinvent the Toilet Challenge, to create a safe, cheap, and hygienic toilet—one that could serve the 2.5 billion people around the world who lack access to safe sanitation.
The solar powered toilet turns human waste into fertilizer and then recycles the water it just used. How crazy is that.
We don't think the smart toilet does this but hey you never know.
3. Lifestraw - the straw of life
The LifeStraw is exactly what it sounds like. Stick a straw in a river and drink! Vestergaard Frandsen calls it a "personal mobile water purification tool" that removes 99.9999% of waterborne bacteria through a super-fine filtration process.
Hopefully this isn't you when you go down to that river.
4. Sucking water from the air and store it
Seriously. Some Rice University researchers studied the Namib beetle to learn how it sucks water out of the morning fog by facing the wind and opening up its wings. They harnessed this idea and incorporated it into a system of carbon nanotubes. They applied superhydrophobic, or water-repellant, coating to the bottom of a “forest” of the tubes and a hydrophilic coating to the top side. The tubes then sucked water out of the air above them, and spread it throughout the forest thanks to gravity and capillary action. The water didn’t leak out because of the hydrophobic bottom, and the setup slowed evaporation.
Hopefully the beetle doesn't look like Nick Cage's hair blowing in the wind.
5. The SlingShot
From the inventor of the Segway and the designer of the Freestyle Coke machine, Dean Kamen brings you the SlingShot. Inspired from a dialysis machine he designed with his brother, it can take any "bad water" (even sewage) and make 1,000 liters of drinkable water per day. The Segway inventor's machine does require power to run -- about the same amount as a toaster -- but can be powered by a generator running on cow dung.