Pedal power delivers clean water to the developing world
April 9, 2008 A staggering 1.1 billion people worldwide lack access to clean drinking water, with an estimated 5,000 children per day dying from water-related diseases. In response to this global crisis, a group of inventors from the US developed the innovative and highly commendable Aquaduct Mobile Filtration Vehicle - a tricycle which uses pedal power to both transport and filter clean drinking water.
A family of four requires at least 20 galls of water per day to survive and this pedal-powered water filtration system allows the rider to carry exactly that. In developing countries women are most commonly responsible for collecting water and often have to walk up to three miles to the nearest water source. Even then, the water must be transported back to the residence and also sterilized. Sterilization by boiling is usually the preferred method, however this contributes to deforestation. The Aquaduct Mobile Filtration Vehicle eliminates both the need for walking to the water source and for using fire to boil the water. The bike is a three-wheeled tricycle that comprises of a 20 gallon storage tank fitted on the back, an in-built filter, a belt drive a clutch connected to an idler pulley, a two gallon clean water tank and a peristaltic pump.
Once at the water source the rider fills the large tank and replaces the cap (which not only prevents spillage but also helps to avoid contamination that occurs from storing water in open containers). As the rider pedals, the peristaltic pump pulls the water from the large tank, through the filter and into the clean water tank on the front of the bike. By the time the person arrives home they then easily detach the tank from the bike and take the clean water inside ready for drinking and cooking. When more water is required the rider returns to the bike and flips the clutch to disengage the pedals from the wheels. Then, by pedaling the bike which is now stationary, the front water tank fills up again with another two gallons of clean drinking water.
The Aquaduct design was the worthy winner of the Grand Prize in the “Innovate or Die” Pedal-Powered Machine Contest. The competition sponsored by Google and bike maker Specialized, asked people to create Earth-cooling inventions based on the simple mechanics of the bicycle and attracted 102 entries from around the world. Adam Mack, Brian Mason, John Lai, Paul Silberschatz and Eleanor Morgan from California, USA are the inventors of Aquaduct whose combined entry won over the Innovate or Die judges.
A video of the Aquaduct Mobile Filtration Vehicle in action is available here here. As yet no details are currently available regarding the production costs or future commercialization plans for this simple yet ingenious design, which joins other recent standout innovations such as the LifeStraw in the search for solutions to the world's clean drinking water crisis.