Thinking Tech

Invention uses sunlight to produce clean water

Invention uses sunlight to produce clean water

Posting in Design

World Water Day: The SolarBall water purifier can help impoverished regions that don't have access to clean drinking water.

It may look like a toy, but Jonathan Liow’s invention has the potential to save lives.

The Solarball, a water purifier, was developed as a sustainably viable solution for those living in impoverished regions who don’t have access to clean drinking water. The device, which takes advantage of the sun's natural purifying abilities, can produce up to three liters of clean water a day.

"After visiting Cambodia in 2008, and seeing the immense lack of everyday products we take for granted, I was inspired to use my design skills to help others,’ said Liow, a student at Monash University in Melbourne Australia.

The Solarball works by absorbing the heat from sunlight, which causes dirty water contained inside to evaporate. During the evaporation process, contaminants are removed from the water, leaving behind condensation that can be collected and stored for drinking.

The design is user-friendly and durable, with a weather-resistant construction, making it well suited to people in hot, wet, tropical climates with limited access to resources. But most importantly, the technology was created to be an affordable option for the 900 million people who don't have access to clean water.

It's been estimated that over two million children die each year from diseases caused by drinking contaminated water.

"The challenge was coming up with a way to make the device more efficient than other products available, without making it too complicated, expensive, or technical," Liow said.

The invention was a finalist in the 2011 Australian Design Awards and will be exhibited at the Milan International Design Fair in April 2011.

Photo: Monash University

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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