Design that Saves Lives – A Solution to the World’s Water and Sanitation Crisis


“By thinking differently, and processing water at the point of use, mothers and children no longer have to walk four hours a day to collect their water. They can get it from a source nearby. So with just eight billion dollars, we can hit the millennium goal’s target of halving the number of people without access to safe drinking water. To put that into context, The U.K. government spends about 12 billion pounds a year on foreign aid. But why stop there? With 20 billion dollars, everyone can have access to safe drinking water. So the three-and-a-half billion people that suffer every year as a result, and the two million kids that die every year, will live.” – Michael Pritchard, inventor of the LIFESAVER bottle.

“[The water and sanitation] crisis claims more lives through disease than any war claims through guns.” – United Nations Development Programme (UNDP).

Currently over 3.4 million people die annually due to issues relating to water access and sanitation (WHO, 2008). Due to this, children die at the same rate as if every four hours a full jumbo jet were to crash (UNICEF, 2009). With these dramatic figures there is no doubting the significance of Michael Pritchard’s invention: the all-in one ultra filtration water bottle. The LIFESAVER bottle is a World first breakthrough for access to clean drinking water that removes waterborne pathogens without the use of expensive overheads or chemicals. The device has huge potential to save lives in humanitarian and disaster relief operations as well in military situations where its pressurized system also allows it to be used as a sterile wound wash.

Safe drinking water interventions have vast potential to transform the lives of millions. Many can remove microbiological waterborne pathogens such as bacteria, but are costly and require electricity and spare parts that are just not available in most poverty stricken areas around the world.

The Lifesaver bottle produces sterile drinking water through the use of an advanced ultra-filtration membrane that incorporates a high specification carbon fitted to the bottle. The filter removes bacteria, viruses, cysts, parasites, fungi and all other microbiological waterborne pathogens from water. The carbon block removes any chemical residues including pesticides and heavy metals. It works by filling the bottle with any kind of water, and simply pumping the dirty water through the filter to produce clean drinking water in seconds. This advanced filtration system, which was originally developed for industry use, employs a replaceable cartridge that has a lifetime filtering capacity of 4000-6000 litres. As the cartridge approaches the end of its life, the amount of pumps taken to filter the water is increased. Once an easy flow of clean water cannot be produced with a continuous number of pumps, the cartridge is simply replaced.

The bottle does not use chemical sanitizers such as chlorine or iodine that make the water foul tasting. Instead it filters waterborne pathogens quickly and easily through the bottle, and eliminates bad tastes and odors. The non-tasting teat can also be replaced as it begins to wear.

The Lifesaver is designed to operate at any angle, or on any axis. This means that the bottle can be used to fill a variety of water storage vessels easily. The pneumatic action of the bottle allows water to be pressurized for use in applications where a high pressure spray of water is needed, like the sanitation of a wound. The possible applications for this innovative design are vast and include use by the military, where it will reduce the weight carried by soldiers, as well as in rescue operations, like the one faced by response teams after the Boxing Day tsunami in 2004. In this example, many people perished in the weeks after the tsunami hit, simply because they had no access to clean drinking water. Instead of providing the water directly – an expensive and time consuming logistical challenge that also requires the clean up of millions of empty bottles – rescue efforts could supply the means by which every person was able to collect safe water themselves. With the Lifesaver bottle there is no time wasted filtering water at the point of collection or waiting for chemicals to work, you simply collect the water, apply a few pumps, and drink.

Visit Lifesaver to learn more. Related reading can be found in Gizmag’s coverage of LifeStraw another innovative water filtration product designed for use in the field that requires no electricity and utilizes a patented disinfecting resin to achieve its objective.

By Shaun McKeegan

September 18, 2007

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