How Solar Power Could Provide Clean Drinking Water

Posted in: Water Technology
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Photo credit: Energy Digital

Article courtesy of Kevin Smead| September 29, 2014 | Energy Digital | Shared as educational material

Energy accessibility is at the forefront of many governments and companies’ minds are work is underway to bring energy to those without. One company, Oregon’s Puralytics, is using that energy to help bring clean drinking water to third-world countries.

The company gained international attention several years ago with its SolarBag, a device that used solar energy to clean small amounts of contaminated water, making it safe to drink. Now, with the SolarBag in use in 60 countries worldwide, Puralytics is looking to go bigger.

“The question was: How big could we make it, and could we treat the water source?” Puralytics CEO Mark Owen told DJC Oregon

Its newest product, the LilyPad, is a larger version of the SolarBag that can be used to clean bigger bodies of water.  While they hope to use the LilyPad to clean water in impoverished countries and disaster areas, it also has commercial and agricultural uses as well.

“There’s been tremendous interest from the (construction) industry,” Owen said. “We’re looking at its potential to clean stormwater, to clean water used on farms for crops.”

Puralytics has already won several awards for its efforts, including the grand prize for best clean technology business at the 2010 CleanTech Open. Since its inception, the company has been searching for innovative new ways to purify water using renewable sources.

With a new technology such as this, finding funding can often be difficult. However, the company is getting help from Oregon BEST, which operates in a similar fashion to a university research fund. The company has also partnered with Oregon State University conduct research and testing on the product to improve it.

Preliminary research has already been conducted and the project has $94,000 of funding from Oregon BEST in the pipeline.

Owen is hopeful the testing will yield positive results, as he is anxious to implement the product in the commercial marketplace.

“One of the challenges is that you need third-party certification and a qualified lab to talk about results,” Owen said. “The industry really wants to see that. This is going to help us cross that gap for internal testing to formal field training with a well-monitored application in a public setting. It will give us the (real world) data. That’s essential.”

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