Most tech gadgets we hear about including green technologies are created to satisfy the sophisticated needs of the developed world market. Seldom do we hear about technologies for the third world. Fashionable gadgets like smart phones are quite popular but ingenious low cost low tech devices providing basic services to poor communities around the world can be cool too. Such devices provide resources like water or energy that most of us in the developed world take for granted.
But the fact of the matter is roughly half of humanity, 3 billion people live under the poverty line and unlike us, do not have their basic needs covered. One human basic need is clean drinking water. Over one people billion lack access to potable water and 5000 children per day die as a result. A number of ingenious low tech systems have been developed to assist poverty stricken communities around the world obtain clean water. These include the Watercone and the LifeStraw water purification devices, and biodigesters.
The Lifestraw Personal is a portable water purifier similar in size and shape to a flute. It enables a person to drink water safely from almost any water source. The device filters 99.9 % of the microbes out of the water as it is being sucked by the user and passes through the following stages:
- Textile 100-micrometer mesh to remove dirt and sediments
- Polyester 15-micrometer mesh that removes bacteria
- Chamber of iodine-coated beads killing viruses, parasites and bacteria
- Active carbon medium that removes the iodide taste and smell
The Watercone is a transparent plastic cone that uses sunlight to purify sea water or brackish water. The device is made of two components, the cone on the top and a black plastic pan at the bottom. The operation is as follows:
- The pan is filled with water and then closed tightly with its mating cone top
- The pan absorbs the sunlight and warms the water that is then evaporated inside the cone
- The condensed vapor drops along the inner wall of the cone and into its inner base
- The clean water collected can be poured out the cone by unscrewing the cap at the top of the cone and flipping the cone over.
Bio-digesters turn organic wastes into methane–rich biogas and natural fertilizer. They consist of a sealed plastic tube or bladder typically about 30 ft long and 3 ft in diameter with PVC pipes at the entrance and exit of the bladder. The biogas can be used for cooking, oil and electricity generation. Bio-digesters reduce pathogens, odors, green house gas pollution as well as contamination of surface and ground water and other resources. They offer an affordable low tech waste to energy solution particularly for farmers and families.