‘Solarball’ uses sunlight to generate safe drinking water

A Monash University graduate has designed a simple, sustainable and affordable water-purification device that harnesses the power of the sun.

The Solarball, developed as Jonathan Liow’s final-year project during his Bachelor of Industrial Design, can produce up to three litres of clean water every day.

The spherical unit absorbs sunlight and causes the dirty water contained inside to evaporate. As evaporation occurs, contaminants are separated from the water, generating condensate that is collected and stored, ready for drinking.

Liow’s design was driven by a need to help the 900 million people around the world who lack access to safe drinking water. More than two million children die annually from preventable causes, triggered largely by contaminated water. It is an increasing problem in developing nations due to rapid urbanisation and population growth.

‘After visiting Cambodia in 2008, and seeing the immense lack of everyday products we take for granted, I was inspired to use my design skills to help others,’ Liow said.

Mr Liow’s simple design is user-friendly and durable, with a weather-resistant construction, making it suited to use by people in hot, wet, tropical climates with limited access to resources.

‘The challenge was coming up with a way to make the device more efficient than other products available, without making it too complicated, expensive, or technical,’ Liow said.

Liow’s Solarball has been named as a finalist in the 2011 Australian Design Awards — James Dyson Award. It will also be exhibited at the Milan International Design Fair (Salone Internazionale del Mobile) in April 2011.