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DrinkPure water filter shows promise for worldwide use

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July 25, 2014

Jeremy Nussbaumer with the DrinkPure filter

Jeremy Nussbaumer with the DrinkPure filter

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It's no secret that hundreds of millions of people around the world have little or no access to drinkable water. While a number of projects are aimed at getting filtration systems to those people, many of those systems require electricity, contain costly materials such as silver, or treat the water at a slow rate. The low-cost DrinkPure filter, by contrast, is simply screwed onto the top of an existing bottle, and can purify approximately one liter (34 fl oz) of water per minute.

DrinkPure was conceived by Jeremy Nussbaumer, a student at the ETH Zurich research institute. Working with a team led by ETH's Wendelin Stark, he's created a prototype which weighs just 100 grams (3.5 oz) and that can reportedly meet the hydration needs of one person for up to a year, before needing its filtration media replaced.

Untreated water in the bottle is purified as it's squeezed through the filter

Users simply fill a regular plastic bottle with untreated water, screw the filter onto the neck of that bottle, and then squeeze the bottle to force the water through. Filtration is carried out via a three-step process.

A pre-filter starts by capturing large particles such as sand and plant matter. The water then passes through a layer of activated charcoal, that helps remove odors and chemical contaminants. Finally, a proprietary polymer membrane removes bacteria. This polymer was previously developed by two other students, and contains tiny pores that allow water molecules to pass through, while blocking the passage of microbes.

Additionally, the filter as a whole is said to be less expensive and easier to manufacture than most conventional filters.

While commercial availability of DrinkPure for people such as hikers is a possibility down the road, Nussbaumer first and foremost wants to see it used in humanitarian aid. To that end, he has recently launched an Indiegogo campaign, to fund field testing of the device in Africa. A pledge of US$89 will get you a filter of your own, assuming the funding goal is met.

The DrinkPure can be seen in use, in the following video.

Sources: ETH Zurich, Indiegogo

About the Author
Ben Coxworth An experienced freelance writer, videographer and television producer, Ben's interest in all forms of innovation is particularly fanatical when it comes to human-powered transportation, film-making gear, environmentally-friendly technologies and anything that's designed to go underwater. He lives in Edmonton, Alberta, where he spends a lot of time going over the handlebars of his mountain bike, hanging out in off-leash parks, and wishing the Pacific Ocean wasn't so far away.   All articles by Ben Coxworth
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8 Comments

I'm pretty sure this is probably a mindset problem of a first World Person but do they really expect for this to be successful when it only provides enough water for a single person for a year?

I can hardly believe someone not trying to attach it to a 20 gallon tank and milking it all day by letting the weight of the water do the squeezing and thus reducing the lifetime of it down to 1 month.

What then? Do these come with a free lifetime subscription of active coal, filter polymers AND a phone number imprinted on the Cap to order a replacement?

If it works as they think - Good job!

But I remain skeptical.

Gaëtan Mahon
26th July, 2014 @ 04:46 pm PDT

May I ask why the page does not include related previous articles such as "Lifestraw"? That article is in your archives, and I just happened to recall its name, and went looking for it. Perhaps this subject- water filtration for survival- deserves a heading of its own.

mitcorb
27th July, 2014 @ 08:43 am PDT

Also, the video itself (poorly thought out) was a fail right from the beginning: "Have you ever felt really thirsty, probably not" (from a not so easy to understand voice almost drowned out by background music), Are you serious? Of course everyone has been really thirsty at some point!. Then it just became almost painful to watch/listen to, as they attempted to build up the practically nonexistent benefits (based on other current filter technology). Then, drinking filtered water from a 'pristine looking lake' was far from convincing. I could go on...I Hope they do well but in my opinion, based on this video, I seriously doubt it.

Gerald Grey
27th July, 2014 @ 10:14 am PDT

Some of these comments are unnecessarily pessimistic, but i should think the filter would be a bit mucky after a year's use. Maybe it could be back-washed, to flush out the sludge. Muddy water would surely block the filter fairly quickly.

I imagine the concept could be up-scaled for village use. The later shot of someone pouring water into the plastic bottle shows that a funnel should be used to save wasting the 'precious water'

I did see an idea of leaving water in a plastic bottle in the sun for a few hours. That sterilised the water.

What about evaporative distillation?

windykites1
28th July, 2014 @ 03:45 am PDT

All the whining aside this seems like a great start to a range of solutions. Everything successful has to start somewhere. The article mentions blocking microbes but how about viruses? As this gets developed further the developers should look at opportunities to include UV either from focused solar or LEDS. That will not work well in every application but it would work well where it can be used. Again, stop thinking about just one single solution, one size must fit everywhere design.

StWils
28th July, 2014 @ 10:39 am PDT

Too expensive for the third world. The current trend here in India is to either use UV or RO for purifying the water. The first is heavily dependant on electricity and the latter too needs electricity but also removes even essential minerals.

For the same price what I have is a very similar system. The difference being in the order of filters. The first one is for particulates, the second for bacteria and the third for color and odor. To maintain this all I need to do is to flush the first filter by provided bypass tap. It also has a storage capacity of 7 liters. I have been using it for more than 2 years. My sister has been using it for more than 8 years. So far no filter replacement needed. No ill effects either. All it requires is 10 foot of pressure head.

For use on the road I have AgI based pocket sized filter that I can buy for $ 4/- and is good for around 3000 liters!

pmshah
28th July, 2014 @ 08:56 pm PDT

For third world use, you need organic filters that don't depend on technological membranes. Remember that filter made out of a half inch thick section of a tree branch? Better to set up several of those.

Larry Hooten
29th July, 2014 @ 08:06 am PDT

@ pmshah

The sun puts out a lot of UV.

Slowburn
11th August, 2014 @ 01:43 am PDT
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