This is quite interesting and useful, but it is only good for puryfing water that contains salts or other non-evaporable substances. If light fractions of petrol, per example, are present in the water, it will just evaporate too and condense on the sides, just like the water.
Still a good way to make saltwater drinkable though.
30th March, 2011 @ 3:11 p.m. (California Time)
@Frank191 Agreed, but the product would still be better than drinking the non-evapourated polluted water that was put in there to begin with.
30th March, 2011 @ 5:38 p.m. (California Time)
What sort of unclean water does Africa suffer from? I was under the impression that it was more about bacteria and feces contamination than petrol.
Regardless, this is an interesting idea. In regards for funding, maybe you can get people donating the cost - a sort of \'buy this African child clean drinking water\' thing.
This provides less than the SIDOS system but has the advantage in that it doesn\'t need any internal parts (like filters) replaced.
30th March, 2011 @ 10:35 p.m. (California Time)
It\'s a great concept...a couple things are of concern however...one is that He hopes the plastic is going to be UV tolerant? I would think that a product that is intended to be placed in direct sunlight would be UV tolerant. The claim that it receives 360 degrees of sunlight is not possible with this design....as only 180 degrees of the product are clear in the picture...but a good start regardless! I like small ideas for big problems...if we wait for magic bullet big scale solutions were gonna be buried in our own mess before those can arise!
31st March, 2011 @ 6:02 a.m. (California Time)
It strikes me that one might be able to simplify even further with a bit of plumbing that could be installed between natively available drink containers to stack them, such as 2 liter polycarbonate or plastic milk jugs. Lower jug holds input, higher jug provides condensation surface, junction bit separates vapor and fluid paths and provides a drain for output.
31st March, 2011 @ 6:55 a.m. (California Time)
Frank said \"If light fractions of petrol, per example, are present in the water, it will just evaporate too and condense on the sides, just like the water.\"
Not a biggy. A few minor design or operational changes & you have clean distilled water.
31st March, 2011 @ 6:55 a.m. (California Time)
I don\'t see how this is a breakthrough. There was a similar device back in the very early sixties for use on liferafts. Using the same principle of evaportion due to solar heat with subsequent collection of the condensate, it distilled fresh water from the sea water which was in plentiful supply - given that the liferaft was floating in it! IIRC the trade name was SolarStill and was tethered while afloat to the liferaft.
31st March, 2011 @ 7:04 a.m. (California Time)
\"Buy a child in Cambodia a water ball. Give him/her a lifetime to play.\"
This play on words could show a happy child playing with a ball then the comparison of a Cambodia child struggling to drink dirty water. It should tug on the heartstrings of a population whose children play with out worry of clean drinking water.
31st March, 2011 @ 7:12 a.m. (California Time)
\"The claim that it receives 360 degrees of sunlight is not possible with this design....as only 180 degrees of the product are clear in the picture\"
I think the 360 degrees refers to the horizontal plane which the design can receive. I guess if the device was supported high off the ground could it receive 360 decrease on the vertical plane.
31st March, 2011 @ 7:35 a.m. (California Time)
Good idea. What about fitting it with a sectioned plastic flower-like mirror which would wrap around it in transit and then open up when used. Its purpose would be to increase the available energy of the system. Sections of the flower portion could overlap so that when it was opened, maximum area of reflection would become available.
31st March, 2011 @ 7:57 a.m. (California Time)
Would this work ( from a lifeboat ) on an unstable surface of sea water ?
David L. @ Huji
31st March, 2011 @ 8:08 a.m. (California Time)
Has he investigated kickstarter.com for his financing? Could get the whole world web helping him.
31st March, 2011 @ 8:32 a.m. (California Time)
While this is a noble effort, I really do not see where this is significantly different than other solar stills. The idea of having sunlight come through a clear roof, evaporate water in a container below, and having the water condense on the roof and run down the sides into an exit tube has been around for a very long time. I studied it in college 40 years ago, and it was not new then. The only thing different I see is making it round.
31st March, 2011 @ 8:41 a.m. (California Time)
I like Bob Ehresman\'s idea of using locally-available disposable plastic containers even better. The simpler the design and the more local free parts that are used, the more accessible it will be to the people in developing nations who need it. Here\'s a design concept for a mini-still that just occurred to me that requires nothing more than three 2-liter soda bottles (which are presumably UV-resistant), about 6\" of flexible 1/4\" plastic tubing and access to a 1/4\" tapered awl or sharp knife tip (any roughly-comparable size tubing and a slightly-undersize awl will work just as well):
Strip the label off one bottle. With a sharp knife or scissors, cut the neck off just below the \"shoulder\" of this bottle, where it becomes a straight side. This is your condenser.
With the 1/4\" awl, punch a slightly undersize hole in the side of the condenser about 1\" below the cut edge. Friction-fit one end of the tubing into this hole about 1/8\".
Invert the condenser and place it over the neck of another bottle, which is the reservoir. If cut properly the friction between the inner surface of the top bottle and the outer shoulder of the bottom bottle will be sufficient to hold it in place.
Feed the other end of the tube into the top of the 3rd bottle, which is positioned a little lower than the reservoir bottle. As distilled water collects at the bottom of the condenser, it will flow into the storage bottle, which can be capped and stored until it\'s needed.
One other consideration is to leave the label on the dirty water reservoir in order to shield it from the sun or else somehow shade the dirty water, say with leaves. The greater the temperature differential between the dirty water and the condenser, the more quickly that it will distill clean water.
With this design, in order for developed nations to lend a hand to those in need, all that need be sent to help a whole village (with access to empty soda bottles) is a 100\' roll of tubing, an awl and some \"how-to\" illustrations. $10 should help a whole village with a continuous clean water supply of 200 solar mini-stills. As a bonus, the remaining sludge (if the contamination is fecal) should make a dandy plant fertilizer.
The point of the outlet tubing is to keep the distilled water clean (from insects and dirt) and to reduce evaporation of the precious potable water. However, in a real pinch, the need for the tubing/awl can be eliminated: Instead of punching a hole, cut a 1\" (or so) slit in the condenser bottle perpendicular to the cut edge. When the condenser is inverted and lightly placed on top of the reservoir, the slit opening will allow the distilled water to exit and run down the outside of the reservoir bottle, which needs to sit in a bowl or pot (or larger milk jug with the top cut off). The reservoir should be raised off the bottom of the collection bowl (with several clean rocks) or the reservoir will start to float when 1/2 the water has been processed.
If anyone tries this out, please post the results here. Even better, how about some ideas on how to share this information with people who don\'t have Internet access?
31st March, 2011 @ 11:38 a.m. (California Time)
Almost one of the first things we learned on survival courses (and I believe even in basic training it was demonstrated to us), - using a plastic bag, a sour cream container and a couple of rocks.
Water from the ground, pure, clean and free. No fancy gadgets. This device is nothing more than a \"formalized industrial design\" of something that has been around for ages.
31st March, 2011 @ 12:16 p.m. (California Time)
A similarly designed devise was provided in Navy & Marine Corps aviation flight survival kits in the 60s. It was a blow-up plastic sphere about the size of a beach ball. One compartment held seawater and vapor would condense on the inside and run down into a lower compartment.
31st March, 2011 @ 7:42 p.m. (California Time)
This device is nothing more than a \"formalized industrial design\" of something that has been around for ages.
Edwin, you probably meant that as a criticism. But it\'s actually the whole point: taking an idea that has been tried and tested, and using it to build a strong, reliable solution that will actually help people.
My main question is - why a ball shape? Doesn\'t that just make it less stable, and more likely to recontaminate the purified water when it tipes over?
31st March, 2011 @ 11:39 p.m. (California Time)
I have also played with this same well known old principle
Same simple principles, but different design of the device
The objective for me, was to design a passive ( no moving parts) , simple, fool proof, lowest cost device. No electricity, no power other than the sun
The challenge is in choosing the right materials and shape. Mine beats this one, as far as I can see
The other related problem is in choosing the most cost effective (due to initial cost and durability) materials
My tests show a consistent output of 4.7 liters per square meter on tropical latitudes, Spring season, 100% clear sky days
I imagine around, say, at least 30 square meters needed for a family to satisfy their drinking, cooking, dish and pot washing, clothes washing, light bathing needs
Even with my much lower cost design, you are talking about a couple of thousand dollars investment ( I am working on that presently, to see if I can get it down even more )
That is why I believe the used soda pop bottle solution is great, but limited to not dying of thirst only. A bottle system will work, but not achieve my specific output, so I can not imagine hundreds of bottles in a system per family
1st April, 2011 @ 7:05 a.m. (California Time)
Yeah, it\'s been around forever. Putting it into production is the key. Better and more plentiful for a village though is to dig a new well that everyone can use. Still, solar stils are pretty handy in some situations. Good site for the history of \"conventional\" solar stils... http://www.solaqua.com/solstilbas.html
4th April, 2011 @ 8:28 a.m. (California Time)
very interesting thanks for the article
4th April, 2011 @ 8:18 p.m. (California Time)
Industrial Design student Jonathan Liow - please contact me ASAP.
Burton Danet, Ph.D.
Clinical Psychologist (retired)
Co-Founder, ABC4All Portal4Relief
9th April, 2011 @ 8:38 a.m. (California Time)
Seriously, can I buy one of these?
27th July, 2012 @ 4:13 p.m. (California Time)
Regardless of these posted extra requests, I'd still buy a Solarball as-is. But I can't find where to buy them. When will they be available on Amazon or elsewhere? This is a useful product.
17th July, 2013 @ 10:15 a.m. (California Time)
VERY ANNOYING!! this guy stole my idea. And I'm NOT kidding people... Nothing genius in it though, just common sense. I hope he uses for what he built it for in a first place: POOR PEOPLE- they are waiting.
8th February, 2014 @ 8:16 p.m. (California Time)