Thinking Tech

A bicycle that produces drinking water may help thirsty villages

Posting in Technology

A Japanese company has plans to scale up production of a bicycle that purifies water for those living in remote villages or disaster areas.

Bicycling is a great way to burn calories and get fit. But a new kind of bike may improve the health of entire communities in an entirely different way.

Nippon Basic, a start-up based in Japan, has plans to scale up production of a bicycle that purifies water for those living in remote villages or disaster areas. Cycloclean functions just like any other bicycle, except that the addition of a water filtering system allows bikers to crank out drinking water using the same pedaling motion that propels bikers forward. The rotation of the bike chain helps to remove impurities by driving a motor that pumps water through a system of filters, pumps and hoses located near the rear wheel.

But just how much drinking water are we talking about here? The company touts on their website that during the course of a 10 hour biking trip, the technology will generate about three tons of clean water, enough to quench the thirst of 1,500 people. The modified bicycle also features puncture-proof tires and the capacity to suck up water at a depth of five meters.

Originally developed in 2005, the company has since sold 200 bikes to countries like for the Japanese equivalent of 6,600 dollars per unit.

Although the bikes are considerably more expensive than ordinary bicycles, company president Yuichi Katsuura says that the bikes can actually be a form of revenue for businesses that sell water and create new opportunities for the millions of rickshaw drivers in Bangladesh who stand to lose their jobs as the economy grows.

"You go to where water is, put your bicycle on a stand, drop a pump and peddle for clean water, which can then be sold elsewhere," he told Agence France-Presse.

The company hopes to have 100-200 units available for purchase annually, with production slated to ramp up around April.

Photo: Nippon Basic

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Tuan Nguyen

Contributing Editor

Contributing Editor Tuan C. Nguyen is a freelance science journalist based in New York City. He has written for the U.S. News and World Report, Fox News, MSNBC, ABC News, AOL, Yahoo! News and LiveScience. Formerly, he was reporter and producer for the technology section of ABCNews.com. He holds degrees from the University of California Los Angeles and the City University of New York's Graduate School of Journalism. Follow him on Twitter. Disclosure