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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: How about the XO laptop option
By rninneman on 9/14/2009 11:18:09 AM , Rating: 1
Even better, let's take 50 cents of every dollar you make and send it to a third world country. That way they can not only have water but also buy food, clothing, and shelter.


RE: How about the XO laptop option
By drmo on 9/14/2009 12:42:52 PM , Rating: 4
What you are suggesting (sarcastically I suppose) is that people be forcibly taxed; what I am suggesting is a way of financing the operation that the inventor wants to go forward with in providing clean water to underdevloped countries. He already wants to distribute it by humanitarian groups (donations) anyway; with this idea, it would be completely financed as well. Market factors would decide if people are willing to pay for the $4000 for a system similar to what they are already buying (at sometimes $4000 anyway), but with the added benefit that they are helping someone else too. Since the current systems are sold at a profit, and this system would presumably not be, it might actually work. Some people are purchasing the XO for themselves and other countries, so the model is already there.


RE: How about the XO laptop option
By drmo on 9/14/2009 12:55:12 PM , Rating: 2
TOMS shoes also does this. It is a concept that is gaining traction in the charitable giving field.


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