Solar Power to Purify Drinking Water

The lack of access to clean, safe water remains a problem for over 1.5 billion people. According to the World Health Organization, across the globe, 1.5 million children die each year before their 5th birthday from dehydrating diseases contracted through contaminated water.

Hartford, Connecticut – September 17, 2003 [SolarAccess.com] In an effort to offer a solution to the problem, Solar Dynamics unvieled an integrated water purification package for its Harvester mobile solar generator. The company states that each unit is capable of purifying 300 to 1,400 gallons of water per day at a cost under one half of one cent (US$0.005) per gallon, generated solely by the power of the sun. The package can deliver drinking water sufficient for the basic daily needs of 150 to 700 people, whether in response to emergency situations, humanitarian relief efforts, peacekeeping endeavors or micro-enterprise development. “Mobile, wireless water purification in concert with a modest financing program could launch a wave of developing world micro-entrepreneurs delivering an invaluable commodity at a reasonable price to societies in desperate need of better health and an improved standard of living” says Solar Dynamics’ owner, Moneer Azzam. A purification package was recently shipped to Sweet Unity Farms in Bara, Tanzania, where it will purify the river water for over 50 families, including that of David Robinson, the farm’s founder and the son of baseball great, Jackie Robinson. The purification package consists of a pump, a series of filters and a special ultraviolet (UV) light to kill bacteria and viruses that cause waterborne illnesses. The components are interconnected and mounted in an enclosure that readily mounts on the Harvester power generation platform. The package, designed to be “plug and play”, was developed in partnership with Wyckomar, of Guelph, Ontario. Although the package is new, the basic components have been in practical use for over 15 years. Merging the UV water purification system with a mobile solar generation platform enables the unit to be located virtually anywhere without a traditional source of electric power. It also alleviates the need for dangerous chemicals such as chlorine. David Robinson, working with such organizations as the 1st Rochdale Cooperative of New York City and its GreenApple Energy Initiative as well as the International Outreach Program of the National Rural Electric Cooperative Association’s 1,000 co-op members across the U.S, is on the front line developing a model for developing world micro-enterprise that simultaneously generates income and improves health conditions. “While large government programs have their place in raising the global standard of living, nothing can more efficiently address the needs of the world’s 3 billion rural poor than energetic micro-entrepreneurs empowered with the proper training, the right tools and a modest level of financing,” said Robinson. “We believe that our project involving the Harvester Water Purifier will serve as a successful paradigm for micro-enterprises around the globe.” Training and field tests on the system in Tanzania are currently underway. Tom Thompson, 1st Rochdale’s Vice President of Sustainable Energy, is also in Tanzania participating in the commissioning and assessing the potential for widespread application of the system. Thompson is also working with Tanzanian officials towards a broader national energy plan through NRECA International. “When looking at un-electrified rural villages such as Bara, portable, fuel-independent power systems such as the Harvester add a fast, effective tool for energy planners’ portfolio,” said Thompson.
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