The Solar-Powered Pump System That Could Bring Clean Water to the 800 Million People Without It
An Austrian company hopes to play a large role in ending the water crisis with a technology powered by renewable energy.
Pumpmakers created the NSP Solar Pump system with hopes of brining clean and safe drinking water to the nearly 800 million people around the world without it. The United Nations estimates that 6 to 8 million people die each year from water-related diseases. That's equal to about 10,000 deaths per day, with most under age 5.
"There are two main obstacles faced by the communities in this crisis—either communities have no access to clean drinking water at all or they have to rely on water pump systems that require a lot of maintenance, which in many cases is simply not available locally," Dr. Birgit Stuck, field researcher for Pumpmakers, said in a promotional video.
Pumpmakers' inexpensive system incurs no running costs while using solar energy to pump water from as deep as 300 feet, even on cloudy days. The company, which began working on the project in 2011, used "maintenance-free" materials to make it easy to construct and use.
While the solar pumps have been providing clean water for the people of Ndzofuine, a remote village in Mozambique, since 2012, Pumpmakers now envisions people and other companies strengthening their own local economies by providing the systems to their communities. Most of the components for the pump can be manufactured locally. Once Pumpmakers latest round of crowdfunding is complete, the company will be able to offer some of the hard-to-find components on its website, like the gear unit.
About 800 people in Ndzofuine get clean water from the pump with a capacity of up to 5,000 liters that are pumped from a depth of 262 feet each day.
"Our goal is to establish Pumpmakers.com as the platform that connects local pumpmakers with underserved communities and with organizations such as NGOs and private supporters," according to the company video.
"With the power of the crowd, we can create a meaningful tool to prevent the shortages of water and poverty worldwide."
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By Aaron W Hunter
A chance discovery of a beautifully preserved fossil in the desert landscape of Morocco has solved one of the great mysteries of biology and paleontology: how starfish evolved their arms.
The Pompeii of palaeontology. Aaron Hunter, Author provided<h2></h2><p>Although starfish might appear very robust animals, they are typically made up of lots of hard parts attached by ligaments and soft tissue which, upon death, quickly degrade. This means we rely on places like the Fezouata formations to provide snapshots of their evolution.</p><p>The starfish fossil record is patchy, especially at the critical time when many of these animal groups first appeared. Sorting out how each of the various types of ancient starfish relate to each other is like putting a puzzle together when many of the parts are missing.</p><h2>The Oldest Starfish</h2><p><em><a href="https://www.biorxiv.org/content/10.1101/216101v1.full.pdf" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Cantabrigiaster</a></em> is the most primitive starfish-like animal to be discovered in the fossil record. It was discovered in 2003, but it has taken over 17 years to work out its true significance.</p><p>What makes <em>Cantabrigiaster</em> unique is that it lacks almost all the characteristics we find in brittle stars and starfish.</p><p>Starfish and brittle stars belong to the family Asterozoa. Their ancestors, the Somasteroids were especially fragile - before <em>Cantabrigiaster</em> we only had a handful of specimens. The celebrated Moroccan paleontologist Mohamed <a href="https://doi.org/10.1016/j.palaeo.2016.06.041" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Ben Moula</a> and his local team was instrumental in discovering <a href="https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S0031018216302334?via%3Dihub" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">these amazing fossils</a> near the town of Zagora, in Morocco.</p><h2>The Breakthrough</h2><p>Our breakthrough moment came when I compared the arms of <em>Cantabrigiaster</em> with those of modern sea lilles, filter feeders with long feathery arms that tend to be attached to the sea floor by a stem or stalk.</p><p>The striking similarity between these modern filter feeders and the ancient starfish led our team from the University of Cambridge and Harvard University to create a new analysis. We applied a biological model to the features of all the current early Asterozoa fossils in existence, along with a sample of their closest relatives.</p>
Cantabrigiaster is the most primitive starfish-like animal to be discovered in the fossil record. Aaron Hunter, Author provided<p>Our results demonstrate <em>Cantabrigiaster</em> is the most primitive of all the Asterozoa, and most likely evolved from ancient animals called crinoids that lived 250 million years before dinosaurs. The five arms of starfish are a relic left over from these ancestors. In the case of <em>Cantabrigiaster</em>, and its starfish descendants, it evolved by flipping upside-down so its arms are face down on the sediment to feed.</p><p>Although we sampled a relatively small numbers of those ancestors, one of the unexpected outcomes was it provided an idea of how they could be related to each other. Paleontologists studying echinoderms are often lost in detail as all the different groups are so radically different from each other, so it is hard to tell which evolved first.</p>
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