Antonio Barba Sanchez from Anáhuac Mayab University has won the James Dyson Award for his low-cost seawater purifier.
This small inflatable water tank is designed for emergency situations where drinking water is scarce, sun-light plentiful, and where the only other thing to drink is salt-water. Making it well suited for international oceanic waters or coastal desert-like conditions.
Countries that rely on larger desalination plants or imported freshwater could also benefit from keeping Bermudas around just in the case a natural disaster wipe out their logistics and power grid. Palu, Indonesia is currently struggling with this very problem after the recent tsunami struck.
“The design of this product began with trips in Mexico, where I noticed that fishermen do not have optimal equipment for fishing,” said the designer.
“Some of them have had several problems with their boats, the weather or even orientation and most of them didn’t have the equipment to survive a longer shipwreck.”
He co-operated with other experts to explore current strategies for water purification and how we can make them better.
“I found several processes that can be improved and that work but aren’t so efficient,” he continued. “That is why I decided to combine some of these techniques and basic principles of physics and chemistry to achieve a much more efficient process.”
Solar power desalination separates water from salt and filters out bacteria algae or sediment. People are planning to use larger models for cultivating permaculture in the desert and intend to green the entire Sahara using similar methods.
Air pressure balance between the inside and outside of the tank can be adjusted to create a vacuum on the inside, which lowers the boiling point of water. This is similar to how scientists generate entangled clouds of bose einstein condensate inside of a more “pure” vacuum close to absolute zero.
We are learning that by changing environment you can also alter the chemical “pre-sets” of a particular element, compound or particle. As opposed to what we were taught in high-school chemistry and physics – that they remain stable and fixed.
Because air pressure vacuum can be adjusted manually you can also change the pressure balance between liquid water and gaseous vapor in the next phase, which allows steam from the water to re-circulate at a faster rate.
The device isn’t perfect. Though it can generate between 2.1 -4.2 litres of drinking water a day, the water itself is not safe to drink for extended periods of time. Furthermore, Bermudas water tank and lid are not attached.
Sanchez contests that bulk manufacturing could help streamline the product. Regardless, an upper limit of 4.2 liters is impressive compared to recent advancements in carbon-dipped paper based solar powered water purification which currently sit at around 2.2 litres a day – though the latter is of course, more clean.
For context, the average human being drinks around 2 liters a day.
Another form of water purification utilized moringa seeds and sand to filter out bacterial and other contaminants.
Ideally sound levitation should be used in combination with water purification for better detection of contaminants.