In the world we live in, we don’t think too much about the water we drink. Some engineers do. We’ll see why, today on Engineering Works!
Around the world, almost 900 million people, that’s three times the population of the United States, drink dirty water every day. It’s no surprise that diarrheal diseases, mostly caused by drinking contaminated water, is a common ailment. About 1-1/2 million children die each year of diseases brought on by drinking dirty water.
Engineers have come up with a solution. It’s a sort of high-tech drinking straw that filters dirty water as you drink. The water starts out dirty, but by the time it gets to your mouth, it’s clean and safe. The straw is a plastic tube about 10 inches long and 2 inches in diameter. Inside is a series of filters.
First, there’s a mesh screen that catches dirt and sediment. Next comes another screen with openings about a tenth the diameter of a human hair – a micron – across. This catches illness-causing bacteria. After that there’s a section of tiny beads coated with iodine. This kills viruses, bacteria and parasites. Following that is activated charcoal that takes out the taste of the iodine.
Each LifeStraw, the company calls it, costs about $20 and purifies enough water to keep you hydrated for a year. A larger version cleans enough water for a whole family.
This is pretty cool, but we’re still glad our clean water comes out of the tap. See you next time.
Engineering Works! is made possible by Texas A&M Engineering and produced by KAMU-FM in College Station. Learn more about engineering. Visit us on the World Wide Web.
Start the discussion: Clean water and getting enough of it in the right places is a problem that never goes away. Point us to other nifty engineering that helps people get the clean water they need. We’ll try to use the info on down the road.