More than a billion people around the world lack access to safe drinking water, and some 300 million of them are in Africa. Industrial design students Ryan Lynch and Marcus Triest have an interesting approach to tackling the problem in sub-Saharan African with his Solar Bag.
This design concept is both a shoulder bag-style container to transport water from a distant source, as well as a tool to purify it.
The container is made of polyethylene, which allows UV rays to pass through the clear outer layer and kill most of the bacteria in the water. It's similar to purifying water with sunlight and bottles made of polyethylene terephthalate (PET).
A black polyethylene layer forms the back layer, and helps reflect the UV rays and heat the water, speeding up the purification process. The bag can apparently decontaminate 2.5 gallons of water in about six hours.
The Solar Bag can also be hung on a wall or laid out on the ground during the purification time, according to Lynch's Web site.
A spigot at the bottom of the bag can be attached to a manual pump filter to enhance the purification.
The rest of the bag is made of sturdy nylon, and the materials costs could come to less than $5 if the bag is made in bulk.
A prototype of the Solar Bag has been made, but the designers are apparently looking for backers to help manufacture it in bulk. How many lives could it help if it actually works the way it should?