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
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.
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
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
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
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.