Safe Drinking Water

Too much of the world lacks access to clean drinking water. Engineer Michael Pritchard did something about it — inventing the portable Lifesaver filter, which can make the most revolting water drinkable in seconds. An amazing demo from TEDGlobal 2009.

With cutting-edge nanotech, Michael Pritchard’s Lifesaver water-purification bottle could revolutionize water-delivery systems in disaster-stricken areas around the globe.

For more information about the world water problem, visit Digital Rabbit.

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0 thoughts on “Safe Drinking Water

  1. Very cool. I know some economists, sci fi writers etc. focused on water monopolies and human societies. I have also heard that some prominent people have been buying water rights from farmers all over the US. I don’t think I am paranoid, but I wish I knew more about it. Perhaps just understanding would make me feel better.

  2. These are no solution at all. They’re hideously expensive and require hideously expensive replacement cartridges after only 6,000 liters.

    I learned a bit about the water problem in the third world when my friend Mary Chervenak ran around the world a couple of years ago to raise funds for the Blue Planet Run foundation.


    These families don’t need $150 water bottles that need a $120 replacement cartridge to be replaced once a month, even if the products are given to them free of charge. That’s an extraordinarily inefficient use of limited donor funds.

    BPR concentrated on building low-tech infrastructure, things as simple as making sure a village had bricks to line a well or tiles to direct water flow. High-tech stuff simply doesn’t get used, and is often broken or discarded soon after it’s distributed.

    One of the chemical companies came up with an extraordinarily effective and cheap low-tech method to purify water. You simply fill a 2-liter PET soda bottle with the contaminated water, cap it, and set it out in the sun for the day. The UV kills bacteria and viruses, although it obviously does nothing about high levels of heavy metals.

    I don’t recall all the details, but IIRC, clear water could be purified to a pretty high standard this way using nothing more than a soda bottle. Water with suspended particulates could be pre-treated by allowing it to settle, adding very cheap flocculants, or simply by running it through a sand filter.

  3. Robert
    He seems to be directing it at relief efforts after natural disasters and such. I don’t think we’re looking at something meant as a long term sollution.
    If another hurricane hits the Gulf Coast, I’m heading down there with a few of these. You can run down there with a couple hundred thousand gallons of bottled water or just carry a bunch of old 2-liter bottles and hope for a sunny enough day before people get thirsty. I think they’ll appreciate me a little more.

  4. He seems to be directing it at relief efforts after natural disasters and such. I don’t think we’re looking at something meant as a long term sollution.

    That wasn’t my impression. Perhaps it was a short-term natural disaster that was pictured in the video, with the African children getting water from a ditch. But after following the Blue Planet Run effort for several months, I can tell you that that’s how many African children get their water day after day, year after year. Assuming it doesn’t kill them first. And he did talk about all the people who do without clean drinking water and how we should spend $20 billion on his product to buy one for everyone who needs one. That sounds like more than short-term disaster relief to me.

    I don’t know. Perhaps I’m doing the guy a disservice. Perhaps he’s deeded his patents over to a non-profit organization and does not intend to profit personally from sales of this device. If so, he’s well-intentioned but in my opinion misguided.

  5. As a small business owner, I have no problem at all with the idea of him making money from this.
    With the information you provided, this certainly doesn’t seem like a feasable long term solution, but it’s still pretty cool. I like the relief effort use, perhaps the costs can be brought down with higher production numbers?
    I like the idea of having a warehouse full of these sitting around for emergency use. Still, the need for long term solutions is much more pressing.

  6. Thanks for the URL to the blog on water issues; they have some excellent posts on bottled water. My roommate’s bought into the “bottled water is better” scam hook, line, and sinker, and it’s nice to finally have something more concrete to shove at him. Not that he’ll learn from it, I fear…

  7. Has nobody checked the PRICE???

    $150 each! That gets you 4000 litres, but still.

    Okay for rich americans in hurricanes, but completely useless for anyone in the third world – a solar powered still would be far cheaper in all ways.

    That 20 billion could be put to far better use, and it makes me mad that people are giving credit to the idea of spending money in such a way to people who could use the money much better if we just asked them how they want it spent. Especially because it cannot desalinate, and much of the lack of access to drinking water is probably a salt problem.

    By the way, these micropore filter membranes have been available for a long time now. The canadian military has been using them for more than 15 years.

    If someone produces a cheap reverse osmosis bottle, that would impress me, but this is dumb except for rich people.

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