Too much of the world lacks access to clean drinking water. 884 million people are enduring such distressing situation, nearly one in eight people. Engineer Michael Pritchard did something about it - inventing the portable Lifesaver filter, which can make the most revolting water drinkable in seconds.
To keep water-related diseases at bay, a man from Surrey (in the UK) that has sold Apple computers for ten years is today rumoured to be a second Norman Borlaug (March 25, 1914 – September 12, 2009). Mr. Pritchard came up with by far the most important breakthrough in many years: the Lifesaver bottle.
I will let his demonstration to speak for itself. So, have a look at his lecture, during TED 2009.
He developed lifesaver bottle after seeing the tragic waste of life and serious problems caused by the lack of safe drinking water in the wake of the Tsunami in December 2004 and in the following year when Hurricane Katrina hit Louisiana.
Unsatisfied with his feeling of impotence in the face of a multitude of refugees obliged to wait for days on end to clean water, Pritchard decided to do something about. And so, the Lifesaver appeared: a bottle capable of transforming into clean water any sort of water.
It took a little while and some very frustrating prototypes in his kitchen. But, eventually, he did it. Pritchard’s bottle removes bacteria, viruses, cysts, parasites, fungi and all other microbiological waterborne pathogens without using chemicals. Likewise iodine or chlorine which leave a distinctive foul taste.
Pritchard tells that before the Lifesaver, the best portable filters were capable of filtering particles up to 200 nanometers (nm). The problem, according to him, is that the smallest bacterium reaches 200 nm and the smallest virus, 25 nm. "They will pass free and easily through the 200 nm pore. The Lifesaver pore has 15 nm. So, nothing can pass through them", recalls the filter creator.
Impact on humanitarian relief
Lifesaver bottle will have a significant impact on humanitarian and disaster relief operations. Its unique technology means local sources of water may be safely drunk. Importantly the Pritchard’s bottle will reduce the spread of diseases and reduce the logistical support required when responding to events.
Moreover, it lowers the overall cost of response as in many cases no bottled water will be required. Less medicine, staff and transportation are needed and no landfill sites have to be created to dispose of the millions of waste plastic bottles. In the near future, deploying Lifesaver bottles to emergency situations will result in more lives being saved at less cost and with a faster response than has ever been possible before.
It is happening now. Take a look at Haiti's example.
Do you want to contribute? Donate one bottle here.
What do you TH!NK? Am I too optimistic?