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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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RE: To be blunt.
By superPC on 9/14/2009 10:59:10 AM , Rating: 4
we don't have to kill those people. we have more than enough of everything for more than 20 billion people. most of third world country farming system is stuck in the 17th century. bringing them up to speed with industrialized nation standard will at least triple our food (meat, vegetables and carbohydrates sources) (the US increase food produce by 2% annually from the 1920 to 2000 , imagine the rest of the world leapfrog that and increase food produce by 200% in a decade by using equal level of technology that's being use in the US). with 30% of our our seafood coming from an aquaculture ( and still increasing by 8% annually, there's no shortage of animal protein.

sharing agriculture and aquaculture technology with third world country can solve food problem. why should we let all those people die?

RE: To be blunt.
By ancient46 on 9/14/2009 11:10:55 AM , Rating: 3
We already have the answer to the food/population problem, Soylent Green.

RE: To be blunt.
By Durrr on 9/14/2009 8:21:16 PM , Rating: 2
I heard that it's made of people

RE: To be blunt.
By Jeffk464 on 9/14/2009 8:44:09 PM , Rating: 2
Don't worry if we as a species choose not to address the problem of human overpopulation of the planet mother nature will come up with her own solution. Think of the planet as a bank account. We as a species inherited a huge amount of money that we put in the bank. For most of our time on the planet we haven't been withdrawing faster then interest has been replenishing it. But now we have reached the point where we withdraw it faster then interest can keep up. So we will eventually will reach a point of zero balance. Its pure economics. Luckily I have lived during the richest time in human history in the richest country in human history and I will more then likely be dead before that bank account hits zero. So, party on.

RE: To be blunt.
By gfxBill on 9/14/2009 10:16:43 PM , Rating: 2
Using as much logic and science as you did, I rebut by saying "nonsense!"

RE: To be blunt.
By Jeffk464 on 9/15/2009 12:49:43 AM , Rating: 2
wow, you got me there :)

RE: To be blunt.
By rcc on 9/15/2009 1:02:38 PM , Rating: 2
Its pure economics. Luckily I have lived during the richest time in human history in the richest country in human history and I will more then likely be dead before that bank account hits zero. So, party on.

Which is pretty much what people have been saying since the 1600s. So far they've all been wrong, but there does have to be a threshold somewhere.

RE: To be blunt.
By foolsgambit11 on 9/14/2009 12:47:40 PM , Rating: 2
Unfortunately, industrial agriculture as used in the US requires large levels of chemical fertilizers - fertilizers currently made from petroleum products. Leaving aside environmental issues, there are economic problems with using nearly a gallon of gas to make a bushel of corn, for example. The developing world has the cheap labor which makes less 'efficient' cultivation more sensible economically than it is in the US. And the developing world may find it unsustainable to provide the kind of farming subsidies the West does to keep food prices down in the face of technological and material expenses, including the costs of using modern, patented, high-yield seeds.

I'm not saying it can't be done, but there are more challenges involved than simply porting US production methods to other countries.

RE: To be blunt.
By superPC on 9/14/2009 6:28:36 PM , Rating: 2
no, chemical fertilizers comes from nitrogen, phosphates, potassium, iron, nickel, zinc, magnesium, sulfur, calcium, copper and chlorine. they use natural gas to make these ( organic fertilizer can come from manure or dead plants. fertilizer can be made cheaply just look at china, they're using twice the amount of fertilizer the US is using, and they don't subsidize their farms like the US did.

RE: To be blunt.
By jimbojimbo on 9/14/09, Rating: 0
RE: To be blunt.
By evalese on 9/14/2009 10:23:04 PM , Rating: 2
That sounds great and all, but how familiar are you with the side effects of the industrialized wonder-stuff? Filthy aquafarms with mass amounts of antibiotics. Polluted bodies of water from fertilizer runoff because we desperately try to keep land arable. Depletion of wild resources to the point that a lot are in serious trouble. Technology trash that is 'recycled' by third world countries. Where's that going to go when they're advanced enough that they no longer want to be exposed to our toxic trash? 20 billion people doesn't sound glorious to me. Sounds scary. Sounds like a lot of extinction, pollution and desertification. Once the whole world is triving and throwing away trash like the industrialized nations, there'll be a whole new meaning to the term screwed. I hope technology comes along to turn trash into energy, clean up the water and soil, etc. For now, though, 20 billion people sounds like an ecological disaster and a lot of misery.

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