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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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Lets assume its not vaporware
By Mjello on 9/14/2009 10:01:00 AM , Rating: 1
2000$ is about what water costs me in 2 years. Assuming some extra storage piping costs for collectiong water from the roof it would be just 3-4 years until I start saving money.

If this machine is low maintenance I would buy one just to save money :).

It could be so cool just living of the water dripping down on the roof.

RE: Lets assume its not vaporware
By nvalhalla on 9/14/2009 10:12:09 AM , Rating: 2
They already have something like this, it's called a well.

RE: Lets assume its not vaporware
By scrapsma54 on 9/14/2009 11:23:35 AM , Rating: 2
Do you have any clue what happens in war torn countries like Africa? The warlords poison wells so they starve the villages until they buy their water. The same thing happened in Afghanistan a couple weeks ago in a village I visited. People are assholes when the don't get their way.

RE: Lets assume its not vaporware
By Yawgm0th on 9/14/2009 11:44:56 AM , Rating: 5
Do you have any clue what happens in war torn countries like Africa?
What a horrible country Africa must be...

RE: Lets assume its not vaporware
By Misty Dingos on 9/14/2009 12:18:53 PM , Rating: 4
Africa is a wonderful place. But Africa is not a country but even bigger it is a CONTINENT!

Continents are big places that have (sometimes) many countries in them.

But back to this strife issue and war-torn comment. It is people that are the problem. Just get rid of all these people and the planet would be much better and happier.

A select number of people should move to the moon and live there. We have proven to be horrible stewards of the Gaia and don't deserve to live here.

So we should exile ourselves to the moon and let Gaia heal herself away from our horrific influence!

There is your happy thought for the day.

Did it have anything to do with the subject at hand? No.
Did it add anything to the discussion? No. But neither do most of the comments here at DT.

Now I am going to go check this contraption out. If it can remove arsenic from the water and doesn't require a PHD to operate maybe it will help a lot of people out. Unlike my post today.

RE: Lets assume its not vaporware
By rrburton on 9/14/2009 12:54:27 PM , Rating: 2
RE: Lets assume its not vaporware
By quiksilvr on 9/14/2009 8:21:10 PM , Rating: 1
Wow. This is the first organization that makes me GLAD the members aren't breeding.

RE: Lets assume its not vaporware
By messyunkempt on 9/14/2009 1:52:05 PM , Rating: 5
Is it just me that assosciates the word 'gaia' with 'people that dont wash?'

By The Irish Patient on 9/14/2009 8:16:12 PM , Rating: 3
Wash, maybe. But shave? Never.

By jimbojimbo on 9/14/2009 2:14:32 PM , Rating: 2
He was being sarcastic and making fun of the previous post. You see "Country" and "Africay" right?

RE: Lets assume its not vaporware
By SPOOFE on 9/14/2009 6:35:17 PM , Rating: 4
So we should exile ourselves to the moon and let Gaia heal herself away from our horrific influence!

How do you know we didn't exile ourselves here away from the Moon? Look what happened to the Moon since we've left. What an awful place it turned into.

No, I think Gaia is just fine with us making our tiny pinpricks and splashing our little chemicals and detonating our itty-bitty widdle firecrackers on her crust. The rest of her will remain happy and content ten miles beneath the surface.

RE: Lets assume its not vaporware
By danrien on 9/14/2009 9:30:17 PM , Rating: 1
aye. besides, if it's not us abusing earth's resources, it's going to be some other creature (evolution doesn't allow for things to just "balance out").

By AstroGuardian on 9/16/2009 3:48:21 AM , Rating: 1
I like your thoughts. But bear in mind this;
1. People are not the problem with wars. It's roles. You can move people even to Venus if you like but someone else will get their role here. A role like trouble making countries which took away something from friendly countries etc. and now they are at war to guard what have stolen. So entire countries should disappear and the world will be a better place.

2. Don't you think Gaia is on the Moon too?

RE: Lets assume its not vaporware
By wishmaster2020 on 9/14/2009 12:10:46 PM , Rating: 4
the problem with putting this thing in war-torn African countries for example, is that if we place these there, what's gonna keep war-lords from stealing these things and forcing the people to submit to their demands before they can access them? In the end, if the people of those countries don't have the will or determination to govern and free themselves without the assistance of 3rd parties - then they'll never be free. Countries like the US and others that won their independence from superior forces and nations had the will and determination to stand up to their oppressors and fight back and win.

If the populations of these countries amassed and fought back against the war-lords whom seem to be more determined to hold them in servitude they'd win or at least put up a good enough fight for future generations to gain their freedom... to what end? Who knows... and if they won their freedom, who is to say that they wouldn't eventually become just like their oppressors...

In the end, mankind's biggest enemy is himself, and his own greed. It seems that in creating abundance it would only create those who would desire to control it and force others into submitting to their will to use it.

Anyway, these all-in-one distillers are pretty awesome, you could probably slap a batter and solar panel to it and viola! Self sustaining water source! I'm just saying they might not stop war-lords from starving and dehydrating people.... but they could help...

RE: Lets assume its not vaporware
By MastermindX on 9/14/2009 1:09:24 PM , Rating: 4
In the end, if the people of those countries don't have the will or determination to govern and free themselves without the assistance of 3rd parties - then they'll never be free. Countries like the US and others that won their independence from superior forces and nations had the will and determination to stand up to their oppressors and fight back and win.

The problem here is not as much determination as capacity.

You compare this to the US independence, but there is something you are forgetting here. Firepower. The "firepower" of an unequiped civilian is much lesser nowaday compared to an equiped and trained soldier than it was 1 or 2 hundred years ago. Back then, I guess 4 unarmed civilians or so could have taken out 1 soldier... but with the advent of automatic weapon, ratio gets closer to 50:1, or more. Nowaday, I doubt any population could free itself from a tyrany without outside help... Not even the mighty (or is it fatty nowaday?) americans.

RE: Lets assume its not vaporware
By Ammohunt on 9/14/2009 2:26:30 PM , Rating: 2
The problem with Africa and other peoples of the world for that matter isn't firepower based its cultural.

RE: Lets assume its not vaporware
By rcc on 9/14/2009 5:53:00 PM , Rating: 5
Which is why people should *never* let themselves become "unequipped civilians".

"Gun Control", another option on the slavery list. Not that I'm against all forms of gun control, just the extremist views.

RE: Lets assume its not vaporware
By mindless1 on 9/15/2009 4:13:53 AM , Rating: 3
Then we send then automatic weapons instead of water purifiers. It makes perfect sense, IF the problem is defending existing water instead of lack of existing clean water.

The real problem is we tolerate governments that look the other way.

RE: Lets assume its not vaporware
By OrSin on 9/14/09, Rating: -1
RE: Lets assume its not vaporware
By bodar on 9/14/2009 3:41:08 PM , Rating: 2
"Mr. OrSin, what you've just said is one of the most insanely idiotic things I have ever heard. At no point in your rambling, incoherent response were you even close to anything that could be considered a rational thought. Everyone in this room is now dumber for having listened to it. I award you no points, and may God have mercy on your soul."

RE: Lets assume its not vaporware
By Spuke on 9/14/2009 7:23:09 PM , Rating: 2
Usually i stay out of this crap, but How did countries like US win there independence. First the natives of this country got slaughter and killed off.
The natives were not helpless. There were some slaughters, don't get me wrong, but the natives put up a hell of a fight (and did their own slaughtering I might add). The Brits ran the show and the colonists gained their independence from them. Look it up, this is not secret information.

RE: Lets assume its not vaporware
By Parhel on 9/14/2009 11:28:28 PM , Rating: 2
Absolutely. Both sides would roll over in their collective graves if they heard people today calling them 'helpless.'

If it hadn't been for the diseases brought over to the new world by European colonists, however, history may have played out quite differently. The vast majority of the natives of North and South America were killed by Smallpox, not colonists.

In fact, diseases travelled even faster than the colonists did. I believe it was Lewis and Clark who recorded seeing whole cities along the Mississippi, completely emptied by disease.

By AstroGuardian on 9/16/2009 3:51:36 AM , Rating: 2
What are you talking about? US won it's independence from superior forces? What forces? The Indians (Native Americans)? The Klingons? Martians?

RE: Lets assume its not vaporware
By Jeffk464 on 9/14/2009 3:57:26 PM , Rating: 2
Thats why we should stay the heck out of Africa and enjoy our nice clean municipal water. For the truly nervous just get a brita or pur filter.

RE: Lets assume its not vaporware
By Zoomer on 9/16/2009 6:09:10 PM , Rating: 2
Brita or pur filters CANNOT be used to disinfect water. They are simply not rated to do so. These filters just remove some other contaminants, and perhaps add some impurities to improve the perceived taste of water.

RE: Lets assume its not vaporware
By drycrust on 9/14/2009 4:33:30 PM , Rating: 2
Sad, but true.

One of the interesting facts of history is that in the whole of the 20th Century only one democratic country had a famine, and that was Zimbabwe. The point being that if a government can see it will be held accountable for unnecessary loss of life, e.g. famine, then there won't be unnecessary loss of life; and if it isn't obvious to the government that it will be held accountable then often it won't do enough to avoid it.

RE: Lets assume its not vaporware
By JediJeb on 9/14/2009 3:27:06 PM , Rating: 3
Actually it would be a rain barrel or cistern that collects water from the roof. Most of the older houses where I live have those and people only buy water during very dry periods.

Wells are drilled or dug in the ground and get water from rain on the ground.

While most people living in cities today take it for granted that the water company pumps water to your houses, those of us living in rural areas still obtain water from rain collection or wells. To be honest I would rather drink that then most of the bottled water for sale. My job is testing drinking water for anything from minerals to bacteria to pesticides and when I test the water from my parents well it is much cleaner than what I see from water plants or bottled water.

RE: Lets assume its not vaporware
By Tewt on 9/14/2009 4:45:02 PM , Rating: 3

I was always curious about this. Do you collect enough to last the whole year? How do you handle dishes, clothing and bathing? i.e. How careful do you need to be in uses other than drinking? What about filtering the water? Today, we have so many high-tech options, I am also curious what can be done to filter your water if there was no industry to support said options.

Is it really so expensive for each home to have some water collection? I'm boggled why we do not see that in places where water must be shipped or why it is not more prevalent in places that have experienced multiple water shortages over the years(like here in San Diego currently experiencing mandatory water rationing).

RE: Lets assume its not vaporware
By JediJeb on 9/15/2009 11:37:52 AM , Rating: 2
In Kentucky it usually rains often enough that if you have a 1000-1600 gallon cistern you rarely need to buy water. Even a small house of about 1200 square feet has enough roof area to collect enough water from rainfall. In dry areas this would not be used as the main water supply for a home, but could be used for supplimental supply to offset some of the cost of water. Filtering is usually done with a small box of sand and gravel to filter out debris from the roof and it is best to not have trees over the roof to help keep it clean. If it needs to be disinfected a little bleach can be added or a small chlorinater unit or UV system can be used.

When used for washing cloths or bathing, using rain water reduces the amount of soap you use since it is very soft water.

I don't think it is used so much today because of the inate fear people have of germs. I know people who were over 80 years old who never had any other water source than this and they were almost never sick their entire lives. Of course these people did not live anywhere near a large population center so maybe the rainfall was a little cleaner but baring severe pollution such as in highly smog ridden places, I don't think the water quality would be bad at all, and of course you could use a filter pitcher to clean it up. People today don't want the personal responsibility of making sure their water is clean, they want to push the responsibility off on the government. It also releives them of the responsibility of maintaining an adiquate supply of water, where as with a cistern you must keep a check on how much you have and ration yourself when necessary. The people I know who are using this system now will either purchase water from a municipal source or get it from local springs when there is not enough rain. 50 to 100 or more years ago this is exactly how people lived, we have just become spoiled by easy and abundant access to water and usually waste more than we should because of it.

RE: Lets assume its not vaporware
By Tewt on 9/15/2009 8:20:57 PM , Rating: 2
Thank you for the reply JediJeb. I agree and am also guilty of that. I would like to become more responsible.

The fear of germs sounds very true. I asked my father who is 76 that was raised on a farm about drinking raw milk. I don't remember the exact terms but he used to skim some film off the top and they drank it raw for YEARS. No one ever got sick. He said the main problem was the cleanliness of where the cow lived. He became a microbiologist and part of the health department(in Kern County) so would regularly check milk. I still got the impression from our conversation he was for pasteurization in certain circumstances but it does not change the fact he never got sick from raw milk.

Also, interesting that you mentioned bleach since the water preservers I saw for sale are essentially the same thing.

Many other things I would like to say but I'm glad there are still people in our country that know how to do things for themselves. Hopefully I can become one of them. I do not like the feeling of being too dependent on external entities.

RE: Lets assume its not vaporware
By Zoomer on 9/16/2009 6:06:57 PM , Rating: 2
I believe boiling the water actually kills bacteria! Oh, the horror!

RE: Lets assume its not vaporware
By Tewt on 9/16/2009 7:51:52 PM , Rating: 2
Yeah, I was hoping someone would mention boiling water. As long as you can build a fire, this seems to be the option if you do not have chemicals(i.e. bleach) or high-tech filters available.

RE: Lets assume its not vaporware
By Murloc on 9/14/2009 10:17:27 AM , Rating: 2
why don't you start with a rain collector and use that water to flush your WC?

RE: Lets assume its not vaporware
By FingerMeElmo87 on 9/14/2009 10:57:09 AM , Rating: 2
it'll take alot longer than that since you'll still have to pay $50-100 month to your town of residence for sewage cost.

RE: Lets assume its not vaporware
By niva on 9/14/2009 12:25:19 PM , Rating: 2
Try that cost per year, and it's something you already have to pay.

The device description doesn't give operational costs though, does it run on electricity? At this stage it's just a guess as to how effective it would be.

Also curious to know what it doesn't purify. It says 97% (of what?)... obviously there are things which this machine cannot purify out of water and I'm curious to know what they are.

RE: Lets assume its not vaporware
By JediJeb on 9/14/2009 3:35:21 PM , Rating: 2
$50-100 per month for sewage, that seems very very expensive. There was an uproar here when the rates hit $8-12 per month. Also most places estimate your sewage rate from your water usage so if you are using one of these for some or all of your water, then your water usage will go down and so will your sewage bill.

RE: Lets assume its not vaporware
By Donovan on 9/14/2009 12:58:43 PM , Rating: 4
One could argue that the "vapor compression distiller" will always be vaporware.

RE: Lets assume its not vaporware
By rippleyaliens on 9/14/2009 1:05:53 PM , Rating: 2
WOW, The roar of the wannabe internet tough guys with a keyboard..
How about the fact that
1. Disaster Areas, KATRINA could have used this. But what about other disaster areas. Asia, AMERICA, South America.. in which getting clean water is very hard.. MEXICO COMES TO MIND.
2. The Cost 2,000 and does >100 gallons a day= ROI in 30 days.
3. Some IDGET said Well water.. WEll NOT EVERY 3rd world village has a well.. PLENTY of streams/Rain water, etc.. BUT IT IS NOT CLEAN..

Not every single person on this planet can live in perfect harmony.. CHINA and INDIA..=2.5BILLION PEOPLE.. India alone has a 80+ % poverty rate.. Can you imagine 800-900 MILLION people who are just now getting power/water and Decent housing. Because the country you live in, has all the stuff we take for granted.. Not everyone in the country you live in has it like you have it.

PS i did my 4 for the corps... Went litteraly all over the world. From asia-africa.. Lets get this water flowing, for that is something i would not want to see.. WAR OVER WATER!!!! Gold/money/terror/power is one thing, but Water..uggggggggg

RE: Lets assume its not vaporware
By nvalhalla on 9/14/2009 1:49:43 PM , Rating: 3
I was commenting on HIM buying a well, not that it's an option for EVERYONE. I just assumed, maybe that was a mistake, that he isn't in Katrina ravaged New Orleans or in a war torn African country. He wanted to save some money on water in his small U.S. suburb, I thought a well might be a better option. Obviously that isn't something everyone in the Sub-Saharan can do, but he said he gets rain, enough to apparently live on.

RE: Lets assume its not vaporware
By rmlarsen on 9/14/2009 2:18:53 PM , Rating: 4
You missed the point. It works exactly because it literally IS vaporware.

RE: Lets assume its not vaporware
By Skott on 9/14/2009 2:25:13 PM , Rating: 2
If this tech works as the claims say then this will be huge for 3rd world countries. It can also be brought in for devastiated areas like after Katrina in New Orleans. A $2000 price tag makes it so even the poor villages have a chance to get clean drinking water. And to those that say, 'Just sink a well!'. Guess what? Ground water wells can be contaminated. Just because water is in the ground doesnt mean its clean and safe.

Also just because water is clear doesnt make it safe to drink either. Microscopic organisms dont necessarily cloudy the water. Particulates like, mud, sand, clay, etc., are usually the main reasons for cloudy water.You could drink clear water and still get violently ill and face even death.

Here in the USA we use chemicals to disinfect drinking water wether it be surface or ground water. Chemicals like Chlorine, Hyperchlorite, Sodium chlorite, and etc., Many villages and towns in 3rd world countries cannot afford proper treatment facilities that use these chemical processes.

RE: Lets assume its not vaporware
By lco45 on 9/14/2009 10:12:28 PM , Rating: 2
The machine provides water for 100 people, so your payoff time just got divided by 100.

For funsies that is 3 years / 100 = about 10 days.


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