As part of Specialized and Google's Innovate-or-Die contest, we've seen the bicycle put to some interesting uses, including lawn mowing and powering an MIT supercomputer. Clever as those designs were, however, the Grand Prize went to a team from Menlo Park, California, that invented the Aquaduct, "a pedal powered vehicle that stores, filters and transports water." Much like other innovative water filtration designs, such as the Life Straw, the Clay-Coffee-Manure Filter and the All-Purpose Water Filter, the beauty of the design is in its simplicity and use of materials readily available in developing countries, the target market for this design.
In the above video, the winning team explains that the bicycle "consists of a storage tank, filter, peristaltic pump, clean tank and clutch." Learn how it works after the fold.The team based their design on the fact that "a family of four needs around 20 gallons of water a day to meet basic needs - drinking, cooking, washing and cleaning." So here's how it works: the person collecting the water rides the bicycle over to the water source, and fills up the 20 gallon tank. As the person pedals back home, "the peristaltic pump draws the water from the storage tank, through a filter to a 2 gallon clean tank. That tank can be removed and taken indoors. When more water is needed, the tank is replaced, the clutch engaged and the person then peddles while remaining stationary."
The Aquaduct is an excellent example of intermediate technology, the term coined by British economist E.F. Schumacher, author of Small is Beautiful: Economics As Though People Mattered, to describe technologies that meet human needs on the local or regional level. In this case, the Aquaduct is meeting one of the most basic needs of all: clean drinking water. As the video explains, "over 1.1 billion people don’t have access to clean water and in excess of 5,000 children die each day due to water related diseases." Meaning that if they find a way to mass-produce their invention in a cost-effective manner, the Aquaduct can add to the plethora of ideas and inventions seeking to solve extreme poverty, disease and famine. (See the Clinton Global Initiative, Design for the other 90%, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, and One Laptop Per Child, to name a few)
See Also: ::Make A Water Filter From Old Tires, ::Open-Source Bamboo Bike Trailer from Carry Freedom, ::Bamboo Bike by Calfee Design, ::Bike Ideas For a Small Planet: The Sports Episode, ::Survey: What is the Greenest Form of Transportation, ::This Water Purifier is a Real "Life Saver", ::IDEO'S Designs Bridge the Technological Divide, ::Demotech-design for self-reliance: More Joy Per Person, ::Glowstar Solar Lantern and ::Bicimáquinas From Maya Pedal