Nearly 1 in 10 people across the globe lack access to safe, clean drinking water, UNICEF says. Collectively they spend 200 million hours each day collecting water from various sources. Surely there must be an easier way.
In remote areas, it’s just too expensive for developing countries to provide the infrastructure needed to purify and deliver water directly to communities. To fill the gap, researchers have been working to find ways to upgrade solar stills as an inexpensive, low-tech solution. “The traditional still is little more than a black-bottomed vessel filled with water and topped with clear glass or plastic. The black bottom absorbs sunlight, heating water so that it evaporates and leaves the contaminants behind. The water vapor then condenses on the clear covering and trickles into a collector. But the output is low because the sun’s rays must heat the entire volume of water before evaporation begins,” explains a new article in Science magazine.
In a breakthrough that could speed up this process and enable one small solar still to provide enough drinking water daily for a family, scientists at the University of Texas, Austin have created a new hydrogel that speeds the process of evaporation. The next step is finding a way to manufacture the technology cheaply enough so that this discovery can provide safe drinking water to “millions of impoverished people.” Perhaps a few impact investors can help?
Read more about the science here.