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About the Author

Luan Galani
Science & Development Journalist (Curitiba, Brazil)

A twenty-something eternal apprentice who has a passionate interest in what happens around him. Fascinated by the under-reported, he refuses to be a detached observer and never tires of exploring the untold. His long-life dream is reporting from conflict zones to dig up the underbelly side of war.



Published 12th July 2010 - 16 comments - 7993 views -

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?

Category: Health | Tags: water, haiti, borlaug, lifesaver,


  • Andrea Arzaba on 12th July 2010:

    Luan! You are not being “too optimistic”, you are just believing in something that is actually changing the world for good! Thank you for this post, I love to read good development news too!

  • Hussam Hussein on 12th July 2010:

    Thanks Luan! I find it great, never imagined something like that before! wink

  • Hanna Clarys on 15th July 2010:

    This is great! It’s an invention that’s having real visible consequences which will have an impact on the daily lives of people all around the world. It’s wonderful to see that clean fresh water flowing out of the jerrycans…

  • Luan Galani on 15th July 2010:

    Thanks for your comments. They are always welcome.

    I’ve never imagined something like that was possible as well. It was for me the most unlikely thing imaginable. But, thanks to Mr. Pritchard, all this is happening. I’ve tried to contact him many times, by phone and email, but I’ve not managed to get a reply. So, I’m still on tenterhooks to listen to him.

    What is also great is the fact that it partly resolves the problem with botteld water. If each one of us bought it, bottles wouldn’t reigns anymore. Don’t you agree?

    Great…world is getting better…;)

  • Clare Herbert on 16th July 2010:

    I’ve heard about this before, but that’s a great video. The water still looks gross, but it won’t make you sick.

  • Luan Galani on 16th July 2010:

    Thanks, Clare. Yeah, although looking a bit gross, it won’t make you sick. And we have to bare in mind that for people who don’t have any sort of access to clean drinking water, that is a milestone. That is a great step forward. I was chuffed when I first saw it.

  • Clare Herbert on 17th July 2010:

    I guess if you were used to it, it wouldn’t be that gross. No more gross than some of the stuff we freely eat. Chipper, anyone? smile

  • Luan Galani on 17th July 2010:

    =) You are right…

  • Helena Goldon on 20th July 2010:

    Luan, have you possibly found information on the production costs of one bottle? It would be good if they made it available to us for the sake of transparency - one bottle costs is $150 and it is still quite a big sum…

  • Helena Goldon on 20th July 2010:

    I still need to admit it is pretty amazing smile

  • Helena Goldon on 21st July 2010:

    Are there any chemists on the forum to confirm that the carbon filter in the bottle indeed reduces chemical residues, like pesticides, heavy metals and others?
    Need to know it, please!

  • Luan Galani on 21st July 2010:

    @Helena, very good questions you raised.

    I don’t have information on the production costs and I do not know very much about the confirmation you need. I’ve tried to contact Mr. Pritchard several times, but I haven’t succeeded.

    However, checking out his website, it was clear that it removes all micro-biological contamination from water and that the carbon filter reduces a broad spectrum of chemical residues including pesticides, endocrine disrupting compounds, medical residues and heavy metals such as lead and copper. It also eliminates bad tastes and odours from contaminates such as chlorine and sulphur.

    The activated carbon filter is an optional extra as all microbiological contamination is still removed from water using the LIFESAVER bottle without the activated carbon filter.

    If you need more, just tell me. I can get more accurate information with some professors at University.

    A good link for you:

    Hope I have helped.

  • Luan Galani on 27th July 2010:

    Guys, I’ve just got an answer from them. As soon as they reply some more questions I’ve made, you will be informed.

    @Helena, your questions are included wink

  • Helena Goldon on 27th July 2010:

    Thanks, Luan, looking forward to receiving some more specific information on the magic bottle wink It may be indeed a revolution provided that the organisation proves itself transparent and viable!

  • Hussam Hussein on 27th July 2010:

    lol… looking forward to hear more then wink thx

  • Luan Galani on 13th August 2010:

    Guys, I’m still looking forward to the reply. I think the questions were tough for them. Sorry for the delay.

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