We as a society are always asking the youth of the world to try and make a positive contribution to it, instead of doing things that might inevitably cause it harm. We hope that there might be a genius out there that will cultivate their knowledge into something special and perhaps solve some of the Earth's great issues. College student Jonathan Liow is taking his crack at doing just that, inventing something called the "Solarball", which harnesses the power of the sun to produce clean water.
When you look at the simplicity of his plan, it is really quite ingenious. The Solarball is what it actually sounds like. It is a device that takes dirty water, say from a pond or puddle of some type, and uses the sun to convert it to safe and clean drinking water. In other words, it is a nature made water purification system. Once a user has placed this dirty wall within the ball, you can see the dirty water inside doing what comes natural, than being to evaporate away. As it does this, all the junk in the water, including dirt and other contaminants, becomes separated. In the mean time, because the ball is perfectly enclosed, the ball produces condensation. This part of the process is purified and good to drink.
If you watch the video on the project at CNN.com, one can see that the Solarball is small and easily portable. That is an important fact to consider when you think about whom Mr. Liow's target audience is, that being countries that suffer from a shortage of clean drinking water and need some kind of help to be able to produce some. That is where the young man came up with the idea, on a trip that he took to Cambodia and thus it served as his inspiration to do something to help people in need.
The question for the Solarball will be scalability. The Solarball is indeed portable, but with that fact comes the understanding that the device can produce three quarts of water a day, if able to be put in direct sun. That is a good number, but will hardly be enough to sustain a village of folks that are all in need of the water. Three quarts sounds like a lot, but it is not enough for one human on a daily basis. Can it be made bigger and can places like Cambodia find enough "dirty water" to fill a bigger version of the smaller Solarball?
The other part of the equation that has to be worked out is the material the ball would be made of. Currently the product is basically a hard plastic ball, which makes it lightweight and easy to carry. However the concern would become how a material like that would hold up against some of the harsh, hot clients that many of these third world type countries endure. One would have to assume that the ball would inevitably have to be made of a stronger material built to withstand constant heat.
Either way, this product does have merit. It gives a blueprint for a possible solution to the problem of clean drinking water for many people. Now all that needs to be done is to refine and scale it to a size that could sustain people over the long haul.