Bringing Clean Drinking Water to Third World Countries

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How would the world react if a news report was released involving 20 crashed jumbo jets filled with children? This hideous thought happens every day. However instead of crashed planes, this number is generated from the 6,000 children that die every day from a lack of safe drinking water. If this fact does not raise your attention, consider it on an even larger scale: 1.1 billion people around world do not have access to safe water, half the world’s hospital beds are filled with people suffering from water related illness, and if you totaled the number of children who die because of poor water quality this number would add up to more than all of those killed in armed conflict since World War II. A solution must be developed to face this issue because it is only getting worse. The solution must be simple to produce, cost very little, and involve materials that could be readily available around the world.

Our answer is a filter system that could be made nearly anywhere and involves only a handful of basic components. To make the filter, two separate 2 liter soda bottles are hot glued together by their caps. A hole is then drilled through the caps to allow flow between the bottles, similar to the classic childhood “tornado in a bottle” experiment. A small hole is then poked into the top neck of the bottom bottle in order to create a pressure release. If this hole was not created, a vacuum effect would affect the system and would prevent a steady water flow. The next step is to cut the top 2 liter bottle in order for a filter to be inserted. The filter is extremely simple: it consists of a roll of toilet paper that has been plugged on one end. Plugging can be accomplished with anything such as a piece of cardboard or plastic. This filter is then inserted into the top cut bottle. The filter system is now complete and can begin filtering dirty water.

This incredibly simple system effectively filters the water and removes any sediment or particulate matter that could lead to health issues. To improve this design and make the water even safer to drink, we suggest a chemical treatment either be applied to the rolls of toilet paper or be distributed in the form of tablets. Applying the treatment directly to the paper would be the optimum solution. An additional improvement could be achieved by challenging filter companies to develop a cheap and effective filter that works more effectively than the toilet paper, yet still fits within the 2 liter bottle. Regardless of whether or not these improvements are implemented, we feel this simple solution could make a significant impact on water quality in struggling communities around the world. We hope you see the potential in this idea and help us spread it to those who need it most.



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  • Name:
    Matthew Schell
  • Type of entry:
    Team members:
    Matthew Schell and Joe Gordon
  • Profession:
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  • Matthew's favorite design and analysis tools:
    SolidWorks, Matlab, ANSYS
  • Matthew's hobbies and activities:
    Musician (piano), engineering school, inventing
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  • Matthew is inspired by:
    The desire to create simple solutions to incredibly important issues around the world
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