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Dean Kamen, inventor of the Segway, has invented a water purification system called the Slingshot, which he claims can purify 97 percent of the Earth's undrinkable water. Mr. Kamen is pictured here drinking a glass of Slingshot-produced water.  (Source: CNN)

The device operates at low power and requires little maintenance. Mr. Kamen is aiming to sell the devices for $2,000 to aid organizations.  (Source: CNN)
Thirsty? Just grab a Slingshot, says Dean Kamen

Obtaining clean drinking water remains a very serious problem for people in many parts of the world.  Scientists have been hard at work trying to invent solutions to make water purification cheaper and incorporate renewable energy sources for power in remote regions.  Now, one famous inventor has cooked what he claims to be the most revolutionary water purification system to date.

Dean Kamen, inventor of the Segway, the Luke robotic arm, and founder of the F.I.R.S.T. robotics competition warns, "In your lifetime, my lifetime, we will see water be a really scarce, valuable commodity."

Looking to solve this problem, Mr. Kamen and his associates at DEKA Research in Manchester, New Hampshire have invented a new type of water purifier called the Slingshot, which he claims can purify 97 percent of the world's undrinkable water.

The device took him over 10 years to develop and can transform even sewage into clean drinking water.  The crux of the invention is the "vapor compression distiller" which sits between the tank of dirty liquid and the tank of clean drinking water.  This device operates at low power and boils, distills, and vaporizes liquid water from the dirty mix, leaving behind impurities in the water.  The device requires little maintenance.

The device produces 250 gallons a day, enough to support 100 people.  Mr. Kamen boasts, "It is literally like turning lead into gold.  But I believe it's more important, because you can't drink lead or gold."

The device has already been field tested in the village of Lerida in Honduras in 2006.  Two of the devices were placed in the village, and everything went perfectly, without a hitch. 

Next up, Mr. Kamen envisions mass deployment.  Currently, a Slingshot costs hundreds of thousands of dollars.  However, Mr. Kamen is looking for partners to mass produce the device.  He hopes to reduce the cost to about $2,000 a unit, and to enlist humanitarian groups to start buying the devices for regions in need.  He states, "The biggest challenge right now between this being a dream and a reality is getting committed people that really care about the state of the world's health to get involved."

Currently about 900 million of the world's 7 billion people don't have access to clean drinking water.  This leads to over 3.5 million deaths a year from water-related diseases.



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Let's see it action,
By oldscotch on 9/14/2009 9:45:09 AM , Rating: 3
So it's basically a pressure cooker/distillery?

If it works and it's efficient, great. The world needs something like this probably more than anything else.




RE: Let's see it action,
By xsilver on 9/14/2009 12:13:23 PM , Rating: 2
Agree, can someone explain how this distillery is so revolutionary?
Isnt the problems with a distillery not functionality but power use? (economics)

Thats why the cheaper systems use osmosis/filtration but only work to a certain extent? However they require no power which can be a plus for third world countries.

ok, just read the linked article and it says uses no more power than a "hair dryer" - is it just me or is that not really surprising? eg. its still a lot. amazing would be getting it to run on a 9v battery.


RE: Let's see it action,
By foolsgambit11 on 9/14/2009 1:07:27 PM , Rating: 2
Let's assume the hair dryer is 1000W - over a 24 hour period, that's 24kWh. Over a year, that's nearly 8.8MWh. At $.10/kWh, it would cost $880 to run this thing full-bore, 24/7 for a year. Of course, power costs in developing countries may vary significantly, as can availability. You might be able to run it off of a 1kW generator, though. Certainly a 2kW genset, which is still plenty portable.


RE: Let's see it action,
By Durrr on 9/14/2009 8:25:42 PM , Rating: 2
I run an aqua chem vapor distilling unit for use in desalinization. It produces 3000 GPD with 70 amps of electric power at 440v AC (3 phase). It works of the principle of a heat balance, so it's very efficient, but pretty finicky as far as temperature changes go.

To be honest, this technology has been used in this manner for the better part of 50 years


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