Quantcast

This $16 Water Filter Could Save 100,000 Lives a Year

Business

By Alex Janin

Sixteen dollars. That's the price of a movie ticket plus tax in Los Angeles—or of a week's worth of coffee at a trendy java shop. Thanks to an Indian chemist, that amount of cash could also provide clean water for a year to an impoverished family in the developing world.

The AMRIT water purifier, which Pradeep debuted in 2012, is the first filter of its kind in India. Photo credit: Thalappil Pradeep

“If this will be useful for water, it has to be very cheap, have a low carbon footprint, require no electricity and should not contaminate water sources in the process," Thalappil Pradeep, a chemistry professor at the Indian Institute of Technology, told TakePart.

Pradeep spent 14 years developing a nanoparticle water filter system that can remove contaminants from India's groundwater as it is being pumped. The AMRIT water purifier, which Pradeep debuted in 2012, is the first filter of its kind in India. The country's federal government recently decided to implement the pumps across the nation, an expansion that is under way, Pradeep said. He and a team of students formed a company, InnoNano Research Private Ltd., to keep up with the installation, he added.

The device comes in two sizes and at three price points, which include installation costs: The $16 version is for homes. A larger one that can be hooked up to schools or office buildings is about $500 (connecting a whole village costs $1,200). The largest purifier, which stands at nine feet tall and resembles a giant green coconut, produces about 80 gallons of clean water per hour.

Globally, 663 million people do not have access to clean and safe water, according to the United Nations. In a country such as India, with its high poverty rates and underdeveloped rural infrastructure, access to clean water is particularly poor. About 21 percent of illnesses in India are the result of consumption of dirty H2O, according to The Water Project and there are more than 100,000 deaths related to water-borne illnesses each year.

Pradeep estimates that 5 percent of old-school hand pumps, of which there are 2.4 billion in India, spew arsenic-contaminated water. Arsenic is carcinogenic to humans and can have drastic long-term health effects, such as skin lesions, diabetes and cardiovascular disease.

The first of his pumps was installed in West Bengal, a state in eastern India, in 2012. The state government took notice and installed pumps at 330 schools across the region. As a result, about 500,000 people have access to clean water from these pumps, said Pradeep.

AMRIT water purifier for small communities. Photo credit: Thalappil Pradeep

When researching the best way to build the pump, energy efficiency and the use of natural materials were a priority, said Pradeep. As a result, the device uses materials with a low carbon footprint, such as silver ions and requires no heating and no electricity.

As the water flows through, the pump allows the silver ions into a “protected cage" to pick up contaminants. Dirty water goes in, the ions grab arsenic, mercury and other contaminants and clean water goes out, explained Pradeep.

Pradeep said he had long contemplated how to make clean H2O widely accessible. Clean water is a human right, he said, but in developing countries, access to safe, hygienic water sources is far from equal.

“The problem with water is [the] poor suffer; the rich find solutions. In many places in India, people suffer for no fault of their own. They are destined to suffer because arsenic is such a geological problem. People have to be given solutions by the state," Pradeep said.

Pradeep said this kind of pump could be useful in developed countries with water crises, such as that caused by lead-leaching pipes in Flint, Michigan.

“We don't want to celebrate another century of arsenic [in India] ... Same is the case with Flint. When we implement wrong industrial technologies, new kinds of technologies have to come," Pradeep said.

This article was reposted with permission from our media associate TakePart.

YOU MIGHT ALSO LIKE

Ever Wonder What's Happened to the More Than 570 Million iPhones Sold Since 2007?

11 Ways You Could Be Exposed to Lead in Your Everyday Life

Apple Issues Largest Ever Green Bond by U.S. Company

Solar-Powered Vacuum Could Suck Up 24,000 Tons of Ocean Plastic Every Year

EcoWatch Daily Newsletter

The Opera House is seen with smoke haze which enveloped Sydney Harbor on Dec. 10 in Sydney, Australia. Smoke haze hangs over the city as the New South Wales fire danger risk is raised from 'very high' to 'severe'. James D. Morgan / Getty Images

The brushfires raging through New South Wales have shrouded Australia's largest city in a blanket of smoke that pushed the air quality index 12 times worse than the hazardous threshold, according to the Australia Broadcast Corporation (ABC).

Read More Show Less
People walk across the bridge near Little Raven Court in downtown Denver. Younger Americans increasingly prefer to live in walkable neighborhoods. Helen H. Richardson / The Denver Post via Getty Images

By David B. Goldstein

Energy efficiency is the cornerstone of any country's plan to fight the climate crisis. It is the cheapest option available, and one that as often as not comes along with other benefits, such as job creation, comfort and compatibility with other key solutions such as renewable energy. This has been recognized by the International Energy Agency (IEA) for at least a decade.

Read More Show Less
Sponsored
Activists from Extinction Rebellion New York City engaged in nonviolent direct action to confront climate change outside City Hall on April 17, 2019. Erik McGregor / Pacific Press / LightRocket via Getty Images

By Andrea Germanos

Over 500 groups on Monday rolled out an an action plan for the next president's first days of office to address the climate emergency and set the nation on a transformative path towards zero emissions and a just transition in their first days in office.

Read More Show Less
The Ladakh region of India, pictured above, is a part of the Himalayan mountain region of the upper Indus Valley which is the most vulnerable water tower, according to researchers. Suttipong Sutiratanachai / Moment / Getty Images

The drinking water of 1.9 billion people is at risk from the climate crisis and the demand for water is rising, a study published Monday in Nature has found.

Read More Show Less
Jet stream triggered heat waves could threaten food production in several important breadbaskets, including central North America. Carl Wycoff / CC BY 2.0

Researchers have pinpointed a previously underexamined threat to global food production, and they warn it will only get worse as the climate crisis intensifies.

Read More Show Less