Providing clean water to poor communities is a critical step in ending poverty. Dirty water is a breeding ground for bacteria and parasites that cause severe illness and death. Also, women and young girls are the main group of people who collect water. If they have to spend more time walking to the places that have clean, safe drinking water, they have less time for taking care of their family or going school, respectively.
There are roughly 1 billion people without access to clean water and thousands more who travel a long distance to find it. That is why organizations and people are building wells and finding innovative solutions to turn dirty water into drinking water.
A new method involves a car battery, some water and the right mix of salt. The NGO PATH and Mountain Safety Research have teamed together to bring this car battery water purifier to people in need. It is called the SE200 Community Chlorine Maker.
What the SE200 does is create chlorine that is then used to treat contaminated water. (Chlorine is often used to kill bacteria and viruses that make water unsafe to drink.) One teaspoon of chlorine can purify 5 gallons of water.
So, how does the SE200 make chlorine? Well, there is a small plastic canister that attaches to the car battery. The canister is marked with lines that guide the user in adding the right amount of water and salt. The user simply has to push the button on the machine, and the magic begins. What unfolds next is a chemical reaction that separates the salt ions to create chlorine in about 5 minutes. The kit even comes with test strips to make sure that the chorine concentration is correct, though the makers boast that the SE200 will always make the right concentration.
The SE200 has been field tested over the past several years with many positive results. The makers of the SE200 say that it can last for up to five years and provide clean water to 200 people. Each batch of chlorine can clean 200 liters of water.
The SE200 is currently being distributed by NGOs to the areas that are in need of clean water. The Mountain Safety Research group is providing yet another way for people in developing countries to access clean water and live better lives.
– Katherine Hewitt
Sources: Global Biodefense, NPR, The Water Project, United Nations