Lifesaver: innovating for fresh water
Posted on May, 20th 2014.
Fill, pump, drink: it’s as simple as that. Lifesaver bottles can transform up to 4,000 liters of contaminated water into clean, clear drinking water.
For those of us in the developed world, access to drinking water isn’t a problem: you turn on the tap and water flows. Nonetheless, each year two million people die from diseases they contract from contaminated water. Worldwide, 768 million people lack access to drinking water. So a bottle that purifies water is one that could save millions of lives.
In 2004, Michael Pritchard sat in front of his television as the tsunami ravaged Southeast Asia. Months later, in 2005, Hurricane Katrina was battering Louisiana and Mississippi. Pritchard was appalled – indeed, enraged – at the sight of refugees fighting over a few bottles of water. How was it possible that the most powerful country in the world could be unable to supply drinking water to all those people? He decided to take action, and began developing a water filtering system. After 18 months, in 2007, he unveiled the initial prototype for the Lifesaver in London. His inventory of 1000 bottles ran out in less than four hours.
Michael Pritchard wants to go even further: he hopes to eradicate the world’s water crisis by 2030.
Lifesaver is equipped with a pump and a filter made from recycled plastic that contains thousands of pores just 15 nanometers (10-9 m) in size. These pores are so tiny that even pathogens cannot pass through (the smallest virus measures 25 nm). A second carbon filter traps chemicals and heavy metals. The bottle operates using a very simple system that requires no electricity or synthetic products: you simply submerge it in water and activate the pump, and water gushes out, ready for consumption.
Today, Lifesaver is being used for military, leisure and humanitarian applications. In particular, Lifesaver bottles were distributed in November 2013 to the victims of Typhoon Haiyan in the Philippines. But Michael Pritchard wants to go even further: he hopes to eradicate the water crisis by 2030. To help achieve this goal, he has designed jerrycans that can purify up to 20,000 liters of water. That’s enough water to supply a family of four for three years.
He’s also providing villages with tanks. In some regions, women spend several hours a day travelling in search of water – time they could be devoting to new sorts of activities. Pritchard’s incredible invention is saving lives, but over time it could also fundamentally transform the way people live.
Main picture: Credits : from LIFESAVER Corporate Video