Have you ever thought about access to drinkable water?
The issues in Flint, Michigan, have brought this topic to the forefront in many ways but rarely, if ever, do we ponder it.
Water is something citizens of the United States often take for granted.
The Outreach Program, a non-profit that primarily provides meals and more for those in need, has made it a part of their mission to bring clean water to those most in need.
The organization started when Floyd Hammer and Kathy Hamilton were moved by the great need in Tanzania while on a mission trip to renovate a leprosy hospital in 2004. To date, The Outreach Program has provided 300 million meals to children in 15 countries.
Through continuous innovation, The Outreach Program has found much success in reaching those in need.
Their latest project is a scaled-down version of a water purifier that creates chlorine from saltwater, which can then be added into contaminated water, making it safe to drink.
The idea began after debating whether the same technology that purifies swimming pool water could be scaled down to help those in need of clean drinking water.
After many years of perfecting and refining their device, they began introducing the technology during their medical missions to keep their travelers safe.
What they initially thought would be instantly adopted by the locals in Tanzania proved to be more difficult. Tanzanians weren't used to the taste of the chlorinated water, so the introduction took time.
After tweaking the chlorine concentrations to palatable levels, The Outreach Program began providing a device that converts 2.5 ml of water and a small amount of salt, using electrolysis, into a disinfectant that can purify up to five gallons of water.
The device features a rechargeable lithium-ion battery that is capable of completing this purification process many times. It also has an integrated solar panel, but the group had issues with its real-world usability.
Miles Hamilton of the Outreach Program expressed,
"The problem we experience with the integrated solar panels stems from their placement more than their function. Since they are located on the underside of the unit, you can’t charge while making disinfectant. In situations where the unit is being used sporadically, this can lead to an incomplete charge on the batteries."
He continued describing exactly why the LightSaver is the perfect solution for their power needs,
"We like the LightSaver because we can use it continuously while making disinfectant, storing up the solar energy so that when our battery is dead, we can recharge the unit fully. This is more convenient and better for the batteries long term."
A solar panel was the logical choice to recharge the battery as it could provide power each day and keep these incredible machines running.
Concerned about the fragile and heavy nature of crystalline panels, The Outreach Program decided thin-film amorphous silicon was the best choice for their power needs.
The group has included PowerFilm’s rollable solar panels in prior projects where theft and breakage have been a concern. This prior relationship provided the groundwork for their introduction to the LightSaver.
The Outreach Program appreciates the device’s built-in battery and flexible solar panel. These aspects help those at The Outreach Program worry less about power and more about creating clean water for those in need.
The non-profit is currently working on a larger unit that will disinfect 10 times more water per batch. PowerFilm looks forward to powering this new product and seeing what lay on the horizon for everyone at The Outreach Program.