Clean Water Solutions for Every Continent
According to the World Health Organization, 1.6 million deaths per year can be attributed to unsafe water, poor sanitation and insufficient hygiene. Around the world, disputes over water, water scarcity and contamination and ecological degradation run rampant. At the heart of those problems lies the failure to provide the most basic water services for billions of people, along with the associated health issues that follow.
Today, 800 million people live under a threshold of “water stress,” according to UN Works. That number is set to rise to three billion in 2025, especially in Asia and Africa. In Jessica Yu's new documentary “Last Call at the Oasis,” unnerving statistics reveal that more than half of the world will lack access to adequate water by 2025. In the developed world, environmental activists and organizations are working together to spread the word, while celebrities like Leonardo DiCaprio make a statement by nearly giving up showering altogether to conserve water. As for the third world, however, where the water crisis is already taking effect, innovators are taking direct action through some remarkable technologies.
Solar-Powered Water Filtration
DynGlobal, a US-based company dedicated to renewable energy and advanced technology solutions, has developed the world's first solar powered water filtration technologies to meet the challenges of the rapidly accelerating water crisis. Exceeding World Health Organization and Environmental Protection Agency Standards, the purification units remove bacteria, viruses, medical waste, and heavy metals such as arsenic and lead. Ideal for areas lacking adequate infrastructure, transmission grids and direct access to safe water supplies, the self-sustaining, clean water system could drastically reduce the spread of diseases and improve mortality rates in developing countries.
A Wind Turbine that Produces Drinkable Water
French technology start-up Eole Water is working on a wind turbine in the United Arab Emirates that can produce hundreds of liters of water daily from its dry desert air. Tests from the water maker systems (WMS) have already proven that the device is capable of flowing 500-800 liters of water per day through the process of condensation.
Researchers hope to scale up the technology to produce over 1,000 liters a day with a tower-top system. After producing ideal results in the prototype stage, it is believed that the technology would work even better in areas offshore or near the coast where there are higher humidity and wind conditions.
The turbine features a 13 meter diameter rotor with a 12-tonne nacelle housing a direct-drive permanent-magnet generator protected by sand-shutters, cooling compressors, stainless-steel humidity condensers, an airflow regulator and a heat exchanger. Eole Water's WMS1000 can turn a day's wind energy into as much as 2,000 liters of drinking water by drawing wind through air regulators, which are then heated by the turbine's generator to become steam. The steam is then compressed and the moisture condenses, allowing for water to cascade down pipes within the turbine and into stainless steel tanks for purification.
According to its tests, the water meets drinking-quality standards set by the World Health Organization after a five-stage process. The leftover 30kW produced by the turbine powers the purification system.
For the Middle East, where water shortage is a reality, the technology could prove to be particularly beneficial for remote communities.
Solar-Powered Hamster Ball Purifies Water for Drinking
Inspired by the need for cheap and effective water purification systems needed in the third world, Industrial Design student Jonathan Liow developed the “Solarball” in 2008, earning global recognition. Using solar energy, the ball turns dirty water into pure, clean water through condensation occurring in the small device. Contaminants are left behind as unevaporated water.
One of the main challenges in the design was "to make the device more efficient than other products available, without making it too complicated, expensive, or technical," says Liow. The challenge now is to bring in funding to get the ball manufactured and distributed on a large scale.
For the rest of us in the industrialized world, paying closer attention to the amount of water used in our daily routine is a more realistic start. If that's not enough, offsetting your water footprint could be as simple as investing in some of the startups taking a more advanced approach.
Itronics successfully tests manganese recovery process
Itronics - a Nevada-based emerging cleantech materials growth company that manufacturers fertilisers and produces silver - has successfully tested two proprietary processes that recover manganese, with one process recovering manganese, potassium and zinc from paste produced by processing non-rechargeable alkaline batteries. The second recovers manganese via the company’s Rock Kleen Technology.
Manganese, one of the four most important industrial metals and widely used by the steel industry, has been designated by the US Federal Government as a "critical mineral." It is a major component of non-rechargeable alkaline batteries, one of the largest battery categories sold globally.
The use of manganese in EV batteries is increasing as EV battery technology is shifting to use of more nickel and manganese in battery formulations. But according to the US Department of Interior, there is no mine production of manganese in the United States. As such, Itronics is using its Rock Kleen Technology to test metal recoverability from mine tailings obtained from a former silver mine in western Nevada that has a high manganese content.
In a statement, Itronics says that its Rock Kleen process recovers silver, manganese, zinc, copper, lead and nickel. The company says that it has calculated – based on laboratory test results – that if a Rock Kleen tailings process is put into commercial production, the former mine site would become the only primary manganese producer in the United States.
Itronics adds that it has also tested non-rechargeable alkaline battery paste recovered by a large domestic battery recycling company to determine if it could use one of its hydrometallurgical processes to solubilize the manganese, potassium, and zinc contained in the paste. This testing was successful, and Itronics was able to produce material useable in two of its fertilisers, it says.
"We believe that the chemistry of the two recovery processes would lend itself to electrochemical recovery of the manganese, zinc, and other metals. At this time electrochemical recovery has been tested for zinc and copper,” says Dr John Whitney, Itronics president.
“Itronics has been reviewing procedures for electrochemical recovery of manganese and plans to move this technology forward when it is appropriate to do so and has acquired electro-winning equipment needed to do that.
"Because of the two described proprietary technologies, Itronics is positioned to become a domestic manganese producer on a large scale to satisfy domestic demand. The actual manganese products have not yet been defined, except for use in the Company's GOLD'n GRO Multi-Nutrient Fertilisers. However, the Company believes that it will be able to produce chemical manganese products as well as electrochemical products," he adds.
Itronics’ research and development plant is located in Reno, about 40 miles west of the Tesla giga-factory. Its planned cleantech materials campus, which will be located approximately 40 miles south of the Tesla factory, would be the location where the manganese products would be produced.
Panasonic is operating one of the world's largest EV battery factories at the Tesla location. However, Tesla and other companies have announced that EV battery technology is shifting to use of nickel-manganese batteries. Itronics is positioned and located to become a Nevada-0based supplier of manganese products for battery manufacturing as its manganese recovery technologies are advanced, the company states.
A long-term objective for Itronics is to become a leading producer of high purity metals, including the U.S. critical metals manganese and tin, using the Company's breakthrough hydrometallurgy, pyrometallurgy, and electrochemical technologies. ‘Additionally, Itronics is strategically positioned with its portfolio of "Zero Waste Energy Saving Technologies" to help solve the recently declared emergency need for domestic production of Critical Minerals from materials located at mine sites,’ the statement continues.
The Company's growth forecast centers upon its 10-year business plan designed to integrate its Zero Waste Energy Saving Technologies and to grow annual sales from $2 million in 2019, to $113 million in 2025.