UN distributing smart, portable, solar-powered water purification systems

In recent years, we have covered no fewer than five other solar-powered water purification systems and there's a good reason why. Areas where clean drinking water is scarce or difficult to attain are rich with another resource: sunlight.

Around 750 million people in lack access to clean drinking water around the world. Having a way to produce clean drinking water without the need for plugging into a power grid is essential and, to be truly helpful, it needs to produce a lot of clean water, not just a bottle at a time.

A new solar-powered water purification system created by environmental company Watersprint is notable because the UN has chosen this model to distribute to communities in Bangladesh. Developed by Kenneth M. Persson and engineer Ola Hansson from Lund University in Sweden, the so-called Micro Production Centre (MPC) disinfects and purifies water using UV-LED technology and it features intelligent software and WiFi connectivity for monitoring the machine.

The system is very energy efficient and can be run by just one solar panel, keeping it lightweight and portable. The solar panel charges a battery for back-up energy so that the system can work at night, too.

The system is also being backed by Nobel Peace Prize recipient Muhammad Yunus and his organization Yunus Centre, which focuses on providing technologies that can solve societal problems and create businesses in communities in the developing world. The Centre has ordered 10 units to be used in a pilot program in rural areas in Bangladesh where water is contaminated by arsenic. The systems are managed by local suppliers and the water is sold for a small fee, creating jobs for unemployed people in the communities.

I wrote about a solar water purification system last year that was a great success in Mexico, not just because of the clean water it provided but because it also created a profitable business for the communities through the sale of the water.

“It is important that the cost of purifying water is sustainable. Many people can now begin to purchase inexpensive, clean water, and at the same time – in accordance with Muhammad Yunus’s model – a lot of them can make a small profit by running the water purification plants”, said Persson.

The UN has ordered 500 of the smart, portable units to be placed in Bangladesh, but the company believes this is just the first step for these systems that could be used throughout the world. The WiFi connected machines send out alerts if there is a malfunction via text message to the cell phone of whoever manages it. The LED lights on the machine also signal if there is a problem if WiFi is not available.

You can watch a video about the water purification system below.

Tags: Technology | Water Crisis

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