New Developments in Water Purification

Like great inventors before him, Timothy Whitehead identified a problem and then considered a creative solution. During a visit to Zambia, Whitehead noticed villagers sterilizing their water by dissolving iodine and chlorine pills. While technically successful, this method is not kind to the palate or time efficient—it takes up to half an hour to generate water grossly distorted in taste. But in Zambia’s predominantly tropical climate, time can be of the essence when it comes to water purification to treat dehydration.

Whitehead, who studied design and technology at Loughborough University in England, thought about ways to improve upon this process. Months of experimentation and research culminated in the unveiling of his Pure water bottle. Unfiltered water enters one of water bottle’s dual chambers. Then, the other chamber is pumped through the dirty water and serves as a physical filtration system. Lastly, the water that has now been separated from soil particles is sterilized by UV light activated by winding up a mechanical crank. Unlike its lengthy predecessor, the Pure water bottle creates tasty drinking water in under two minutes.

Drinking unsanitary water can cause a host of health problems. In developing nations, access to potable water can be difficult to come by and lack of access to healthcare can further exacerbate this issue. It is estimated that annually, 760 thousand children under 5 years of age die from diarrhea, which may be a result of drinking contaminated water. Expanding access to clean water has the potential to prevent millions of deaths.

Since its introduction, the Pure water bottle has received plenty of Internet buzz and accolades – even having the distinct honor of earning a 2010 James Dyson Award. The story behind Whitehead and his Pure water bottle is just one example of emerging technology that works to address pressing aspects of global poverty. When innovation and compassion for humanity unite, amazing results follow.

– Melrose Huang

Sources: BBC, Inhabitat, Timothy Whitehead, World Health Organization
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