Salt, Car Battery Bring Clean Water to the Developing World
Though it looks and operates more like a kid’s science-fair project than a solution to the global water crisis, a new device created through a partnership between an outdoor-equipment manufacturer and a nonprofit global-health organization could give remote communities around the world a simple, effective way to purify their water.
Globally, about 750 million people lack access to clean and safe drinking water. Untreated water, full of parasites from animal and human waste or other contaminants, leads to illnesses that cause 840,000 deaths a year. In fact, the second largest cause of death for young children in the developing world are diarrheal diseases attributed to the use of unsafe drinking water.
According to the World Health Organization, of all the available water disinfectants, chlorine is “the most widely used, the most easily used, and the most affordable,” and it is also “highly effective against nearly all waterborne pathogens.” While there are continuing efforts to distribute chlorine to remote communities in the developing world, this new device allows people to easily make it themselves.
The SE200 Community Chlorine Maker mixes salt, water, and the electricity from a 12-volt battery to quickly create a chlorine solution that can purify 55 gallons of water. Users pour a spoonful of salt and water into a soup-can-size container that then plugs into a car or motorcycle battery via a set of small jumper cables. Salt naturally dissolves into sodium and chloride ions, and when the small electric charge is applied at the push of a button, the chloride ions oxidize into chlorine. The whole process takes just five minutes.
In 2008, the global health nonprofit PATH challenged outdoor equipment maker Mountain Safety Research to “find a way for 50 to 200 people, with no money and intermittent access to the supply chain, to have clean water,” said Laura McLaughlin, director of MSR’s Global Health division, in a company statement. MSR was already researching and developing chlorinator devices for the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency and the U.S. Marine Corps.
- Health Care