You know, you just can’t make this stuff up. A water purifier that turns any liquid, including your own urine, into potable drinking water has been gaining attention. Headlines like the one on treehugger.com, “Pee Filter Runs on Poo”, have been hamming it up.
But to Dean Kamen, inventor of not only this contraption but the Segway Personal Transporter in 2001, this is serious business. And, he has been talking about it to anyone who will listen. From a comic foray on The Colbert Report to a more sober audience at the Aspen Ideas Festival earlier this year, Kamen has been working hard to promote his water purifier. Dubbed the “Slingshot”, it distills and condenses liquid waste into pure drinking water.
Originally unveiled in 1993 by his company, DEKA Research & Development Corporation, it has been slowly gaining momentum. He said many people die every year in poverty-stricken countries from not having a clean water source, many of them children. “Chronic human disease,” he said, “often results from bad water.”
His machine is energy efficient and low cost. The machine, which is approximately the size of a mini fridge, uses only about 2% of the energy most distillation systems need. Costing less than $2000 to purchase, it was meant to run on an electric generator but can function without one. It is capable of drawing energy from any heat source—including sunlight or even cow dung. One more way to have fun with manure. Now, who doesn’t need that?
Kamen said the machine will make 1000 liters of drinking water in one day. In terms of other liquids we drink, it takes about five to six liters of water to make one liter of soda. But, it takes 250 gallons of water for one cow to make a quart of milk.
Kamen coined the machine’s name after the biblical story of David and Goliath. He was quoted by the Associated Press saying that “it was a little piece of technology (the slingshot) that allowed the little guy to take on the big guy.”
So make your jokes. Or fantasize about drinking your own urine, if you like. But this little invention might just change the world.