Potable drinking water is one of the largest issues currently looming over humanity. It is not often talked about, but as the population continues to boom toward 7 and then eventually 9 billion people, clean drinking water will become more valuable than oil in some regions. The fact that the 78% or so of the Earth that is covered with water is not drinkable because of it’s salt content is a problem. Current solutions for removing this salt require copious amounts of electricity, which in turn is expensive and not a feasible global solution.
Jonathan Liow however has a solution. He has created the Solarball. This device is very simple and cheap to manufacture. It has no moving parts and relies only on the direct energy of the sun to evaporate contaminants leaving clean, pure H2O to drink. He was inspired after visiting Cambodia and seeing that they didn’t have access to the tap water that we take for granted every day.
In addition to distributing these Solarball’s throughout third world countries, I think it would be a great idea to produce a version that could be deployed with emergency rafts and boats. Often you will see stories about people that were adrift at sea for weeks and drank only what little water they could collect from the rain. In the instances where they did give in and drink the salt water, the NaCl would dehydrate their cells from the inside out killing them faster and more painfully than they would have experienced otherwise. If Liow (or anyone else for that matter) could somehow modify this same concept to be incorporated in the canopies of inflatable rafts, people may be able to survive much longer and avoid certain dehydration stranded at sea.