December 21, 2014
There are so many things we inhabitants of the Western world take for granted and one of them is fresh clean drinking water. In the underdeveloped nations of the world, native women travel for miles to local rivers and transport clean water back to their villages in baskets on their heads. The lack of potable water is the cause of typhoid fever and other dreaded maladies stemming from environmental neglect and abject poverty.
One innovative and caring Italian designer named Gabriele Diamanti has changed all that with a single brilliant invention, which utilizes the power of the sun to convert saltwater into fresh water. It is called Eliodomestico and this simple invention functions in the same manner as an upside down coffee maker. This open source variation on a solar still was borne out of Diamanti’s fascination with the scarcity of water on planet Earth.
Diamanti was well aware of how native women in under-developed nations carry water and other goods on their heads and he integrated that concept into his creation. He also knew he wasn’t the first to make a solar still but is still an innovator in the sense that any individual can operate his invention.
In his own words: “It’s rare to find a solar still in a domestic context rather than in missions or hospitals, or as large plants overseen by qualified personnel that serve entire communities. I tried to make something for a real household that could be operated directly by the families.”
The Eliodomestico is very easy to activate. The black boiler is first filled with saltwater in the morning and then securely fastened. As the day progresses and both temperature and pressure increase, steam is transformed into fresh water after it is forced down through a pipe and collects in the lid, which functions as a condenser.
In a recent interview with FastCo Design, Diamanti said: “My goal was to design something friendly and recognizable for the users. The process developed quite naturally to determine the current shape; every detail is there for a reason, so the form, as well as production techniques, represent a compromise between technical and traditional.”
This solar-powered still gives hope and health to many impoverished people throughout the world at no cost as well as being kind to Earth’s environment.
The recipient of the Core 77 Design Award for Social Impact, Diamanti has received international acclaim for his invention and sees a great future for it in native environments. Non-governmental organizations (NGOs) can deliver instructions to craftsmen and perhaps finance small-scale production.
In Diamanti’s words: “The NGO is the spark, micro-credit is the fuse, the local craftsmen are the bomb!”
Here’s to that bomb and the explosion of fresh water everywhere to everyone.