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From CleanTech to FrugalTech

Introducing the SolarBag

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5 years ago I came across a start-up company called Puralytics. They created a plastic bag that not only filters, but also purifies water. By that time they were just a small garage company, but today they are a big company that creates mainly water purification systems.

So how does it work? You fill a SolarBag with 3.5 liters of water from any source. This can be from rivers, ponds or ground water. You pour the water through a pre-filter that takes out all the large materials, like sand, twigs and insects. Then you leave the bag in the sun, so the sunlight cleanses the water. The sunlight (UV-light) reacts with a nano-technology coated mesh that breaks down toxics on a molecular level. In this table you can see what toxics the SolarBag cleanses compared to other water cleansing techniques.

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On a sunny day the bag needs about 3 hours to purify the water. On a cloudy day it need about 6 hours. The bag can be used about 500 times, before the purification process becomes less effective.

Water is a serious issue in third world countries. What most of these countries also have in common is  the high amount of sunshine during the day. This innovation is perfect for people in poor regions that don’t have access to clean water. Rivers are full of pollution that causes diarrhoea which kills a lot people due to lack of rehydration. The SolarBag can provide these people with clean water that they can carry around. One shipping pallets of SolarBags weighing over 250 pounds can deliver 1.5 million litres of water. It would take a C-130 cargo plane full of bottled water to deliver that much water. This makes the SolarBag also applicable for another scenario.

After a natural disaster, the damage to water infrastructures cause a lack of drinking water for the people. However, there is usually polluted water available. Instead of bring bottled water to the affected areas, SolarBags would be a much cheaper and more efficient option. In most areas water is still around after a disaster, but this water is polluted. The SolarBags can be used to clean and provide water for a longer period. The red cross already uses these bags, but other humanitarian aid organisations could also use them in to a larger extend.

Another great thing about this product is that it is not only for the poor or needy people. You and I can also make great use of this product. I love camping and I want to do more wildlife camping in the future. Instead of packing litres of water, I just need one bag. I can even carried the water in a SolarBag around on a trip. During the trip the water is cleansed by the sun and after a while I can refresh and cool down with clean water. It is also a good item to have in an emergency kit. In the U.S. water can be temporarily unavailable after a heavy storm or flooding. A lot of people keep emergency kits at home, so there is a huge market for this product. The commercial price for the bag is 100 dollar per bag, but if u buy 25 bags the price drops to 50 dollar per bag. This is nothing if you compare it with the price of other water cleaning equipment. I hope they can lower the price even more in the future, so it becomes affordable for the poor people too. In the best case scenario, people in Africa can start producing their own bags. That would make this innovation a true frugal innovation.