Engineering Students Devise Inexpensive Test for Safe-to-Drink Water

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If you want to bring a new concept to market quickly, you must do one thing—make it inexpensive to produce.

Many a worthwhile engineering concept has fallen by the wayside because it was simply too costly to survive the marketplace. Ideas that help the environment, make work less onerous, simplify tasks, even make us safer—all must unfortunately survive the budget ax wielded by steely eyed controllers.

Recently, engineering students from the University of Washington beat the odds and came up with a solution to an age-old problem--water purification--and they did it on the cheap.

Using the Solar Water Disinfection (SODIS) method, they used the sun's heat and ultraviolet rays to disinfect the water inside a plastic bottle, making it safe to drink. The technique removes 99.9 percent of bacteria and viruses--much like chlorine.

To determine when the water is safe to drink, they created a simple device using parts from a keychain that blinks when exposed to light. It simply measures the level of particles obstructing light in the water. When the process is complete, the device stops blinking, indicating that the water is safe to drink.

The device automatically starts working as soon as water enters the bottle and the device’s sensors can read it. It even meets the market test—costing just $3.40 to make, with bulk purchases dropping the price even lower.

For an additional perspective on the SODIS system, check out this video:

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Alex A. Kecskes has written hundreds of published articles on health/fitness, "green" issues, TV/film entertainment, restaurant reviews and many other topics. As a former Andy/Belding/One Show ad agency copywriter, he also writes web content, ads, brochures, sales letters, mailers and scripts for national B2B and B2C clients.

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