Shipping container conversion provides clean water in developing countries
Joining forces with engineering firm Deka R&D, Coca-Cola has launched a project which will see the transformation of approximately 2,000 shipping containers into water purifying stations. Dubbed Ekocenter, the shipping container module has been designed to provide isolated and developing communities with facilities to produce safe drinking water, as well as access to wireless internet technology and solar powered charging.
The first Ekocenter prototype is currently being tested in Heidelberg, South Africa. It consists of a bright red 20 ft (6 m) long shipping container covered with solar panels. The facility comes equipped with a Slingshot water purification device which uses vapor compression distillation to produce clean drinking water.
The Slingshot, which was invented by Deka R&D President Dean Kamen (the same guy who came up with the Segway), was originally designed to be powered by cow dung and can turn almost any source of dirty water (including river water and sea water) into clean drinking water.
"Each machine delivers approximately 850 liters (225 gallons) of safe drinking water per day using less electricity than a hair dryer (1 kWh)," says Coca-Cola.
The Ekocenter framework seeks to employ "female entrepreneurs" who will be responsible for the everyday running of the facility. It is also anticipated that the center will act as a central hub for community activities, with plans to offer solar powered charging services for mobile devices or lamps, internet access, downloadable education kits and refrigerated storage for medications and vaccines.
The Ekocenters will be distributed throughout Africa, Asia, Latin America and North America. By the end of 2015 it's estimated that there should be enough running to produce around 500 million liters (132 million gallons) of clean water per year. Coca-Cola will employ local partners to carry out maintenance and checks on the Ekocenter's water purifying facilities, making sure the water is safe to drink and meets international health standards.
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I am surprised no company has thought of these local store model before. I especially like the computer access. I could see this being the hub for many other businesses, e.g., motel, bar, movie theater, and shops.