Solarball portable solar device creates drinkable water
One out of eight people in our world don’t have access to drinking water, causing nearly eighty percent of sickness and disease in developing regions. By harnessing the power of the sun, a Monash University graduate has designed Solarball – a simple, sustainable and affordable water-purification device, which has the potential to help eliminate disease and save lives.
Developed as Jonathan Liow’s final year project during his Bachelor of Industrial Design, the Solarball provides up to 3 liters of drinkable water per day. The spherical unit absorbs sunlight and causes dirty water contained inside to evaporate. As evaporation occurs, contaminants are separated from the water, generating drinkable condensation. The condensation is collected and stored, ready for drinking.
Liow’s design was driven by a need to help the 900 million people around the world who lack access to safe drinking water. Over two million children die annually from preventable causes, triggered largely by contaminated water. It is an increasing problem in developing nations due to rapid urbanization and population growth.
“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.
Although it is not the first kind of product which utilizes the process of evaporation to create drinkable condensation, the Solarball uses this common process in a unique way by combining efficiency and simplicity of user interface and design. The spherical shape is able to capture light and heat from all 360 degrees, and its compact form ensures that heat is collected and stored within the capsule as quickly and efficiently as possible.
The Solarball does this through collecting and storing heat, causing evaporation of contaminated water to occur. The formed condensation on the roof of the ball is collected and it is purified up to 90%, thus creating drinkable water. The Solarball materials are fully recyclable, and have a long lifespan given daily exposure to harsh conditions. It is made out of materials which comply with food and water safety standards, and is designed taking the intended user environment into consideration.
“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”, said Liow.
As we mentioned, aside efficiency the Solaball design has been given a great attention for details in order to make it practicable and simple. The product also takes into consideration communicating to people of different cultures by using colors and symbols used of neutral ground, thus making them easily understood by people from various countries and cultures.
Solarball has been named as a finalist in the 2011 Australian Design Awards – James Dyson Award. It will also be exhibited at the Milan International Design Fair (Salone Internazionale del Mobile) in April 2011.