Creating clean drinking water through the power of the sun

Enthusiastic kids in front of the Watly machine in Ghana. Photo credit: Watly.
By Anders Lorenzen

Many communities in the developing world still lack access to clean and sanitised drinking water, making it one of the world’s great unsolved problems. But creating sanitised water is both costly and energy intensive. However, one cleantech company, Watly, think they have found a solution to this. They say they have created a machine that would sanitise up to 5,000 litres of water a day through solar power. They have developed the world’s first thermodynamic computer that provides internet connectivity alongside clean water and electricity.

The project has already received European Union Horizon 2020 funding, and it has been trialled in the Abenta Village in Ghana where people have been drinking clean water from the machine.

To take the project to the next level , and to further develop their new prototype Watly 3.0 system, they have opened the project up to crowdfunding via an Indiegogo campaign. Watly says that supporters will receive tours of the Watly factory in Italy, where they can see the patented technologies being assembled, or receive a 3D-printed model of Watly 3.0. Or they could become part of the community behind Watly. Additionally, some supporters will have their names inscribed on the Watly 3.0.

Marco Attisani, founder, and CEO of Watly, said: “Our mission is to improve global living standards for the most in-need people in the world. By delivering clean water, electricity and connectivity, we strive to empower communities with new possibilities, freeing them to realise their potential. Watly gives people the chance to dedicate their vital energy to development, education and business rather than mere survival, and so truly offers a long-term solution rather than a one-off aid gift.”

The sanitized water is produced through the desalination of ocean water, or by the purification of river water. Desalination is an energy-intensive and expensive process, but Watly says that their machine, during its expected 15 years of service, from this process has the ability to reduce carbon emissions by as much as 1,000 tonnes or the equivalent to 2,500 barrels of crude oil.

The company says that Watly 3.0 would generate all the electricity it consumes. On the roof, it has 80 mono-crystalline photovoltaic panels. These have a nominal power of 26 kW and can generate up to 150 kWh/day, and the electricity is stored in a 140 kWh internal battery. The machine does not need to be connected to an electric grid to power its own internal electronics (computers, multiple screens and different telecommunication devices), nor its external devices (portable computers, mobile phones and household appliances). The solar electricity generated by Watly is made available to people via multiple battery chargers and electric plugs.  

Ghana, Nigeria, and Sudan have been earmarked as possible locations for Watly 3.0.

Related news:

UN mobilises one billion dollars to help poorer nations fight climate change

Senegal targets coal as their main energy source

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