Water From the Sun

Water From the Sun

Published in: Bloomberg Markets

Some 884 million people worldwide don’t have safe drinking water, according to the United Nations. Population growth and global warming will likely boost that total in the coming decades.

One solution might lie in combining solar power and filters. WorldWater & Solar Technologies, Inc. in Princeton, New Jersey, has developed a purification system for remote areas and disaster zones that sets up in 15 minutes and produces 30,000 gallons (113,000 liters) of potable water a day from sources that would otherwise be unsafe. The system costs $113,000 to $135,000 and measures 7 feet (2.1 meters) on a side, so it can be moved on a trailer, in a small truck or in standard shipping containers. An array of photovoltaic panels unfolds to run the pumps that push water through the filters – and to provide power for mobile phones and computers as an added benefit.

More traditional emergency water treatment facilities take days or weeks to build and employ diesel-powered pumps and above ground tanks. There’s almost always someone around who can fix a diesel engine, Julian Parker of the International Rescue Committee says, while high-tech solutions can sometimes be too complicated or subject to breakdowns. Quentin Kelly, chief executive officer of privately held WorldWater, counters that his systems are proving their reliability in remote locations around the world. Several were used in Haiti after the earthquake, and Kelly says the U.S. military has installed 37 of his purifiers in Iraq and 8 in Afghanistan.

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