Monday, May 3, 2010

Michael Pritchard's water filter turns filthy water drinkable

By Carlee C.

"Using current thinking, the scale of the problem just seems too huge to contemplate solving. So we just switch off." Clean drinking water is essential to our existence yet in most third world countries they do not have it. Mr. Pritchard has invented the Lifesaver bottle, something that will change the lives of many people around the world.

You might be thinking to yourself, haven’t people invented water filters similar to this for the exact same reason? To answer this question, no, there was nothing quite like this until Michael Pritchard created it. “Before Lifesaver, the best hand filters were only capable of filtering down to about 200 nanometers. The smallest bacteria are about 200 nanometers. The smallest virus, on the other hand, is about 25 nanometers. So that's definitely going to get through those 200 nanometer holes. Lifesaver pores are 15 nanometers. So nothing is getting through.” Over the course of a few months Michael went through many failed prototypes and finally came up with a handy, portable device to transform the filthiest water into sterile drinking water. Not only did he create a portable water filter to use in emergencies but also one that is more long term and practical for families or larger groups of people. “The same technology, in a jerrycan. This will process 25,000 liters of water. That's good enough for a family of four, for three years. And how much does it cost? About half a cent a day to run.” To prove to us, the audience, that his system really works he gave a demonstration. There was a tank on stage with sewage runoffs, bunny droppings and river water. He scooped all this up with a jug, poured the water into his filter and within seconds, out came clean, drinking water. Also, you may be wondering, what happens when the filter needs to be changed? Of course, Mr. Pritchard has thought of that, “It'll last for 6,000 liters. And when it's expired, using failsafe technology, the system will shut off, protecting the user. Pop the cartridge out. Pop a new one in. It's good for another 6,000 liters.” This process is the same with the bigger versions as well. There is now a safe and quick solution to those times when you cannot get the clean drinking water to people without it.

Furthermore, Mr. Pritchard has also thought about how he is going to get these filtration systems where they are desperately needed. 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.” He has thought about the cost to provide these filters to the people who need them and devised a plan. “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.” Michael Pritchard is genuinely concerned about all the unnecessary deaths because of unsafe drinking water and, “…as a result, and the two million kids that die every year, will live.”

Michael Pritchard did a wonderful job of keeping the audience interested the entire time. This was obtained by using some statistics, humor and lots of interaction with the group. He spoke clearly, and had an exciting demonstration that made the horror of how filthy some water that people have to drink really is. I fully support his invention and think it will drastically change how people live daily and during any sort of disaster that may occur.

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