Researchers Develop Solar Powered, UV-LED-based Water Purifier

Engineers from Lund University of Sweden have developed a water purifier that uses a combination of UV-LED technology and solar cells. The researchers are using the system to bring purified water to rural areas in Bangladesh that are far beyond the electrical grid. In addition to the UV LEDs and solar cells, the device employs intelligent software and Wi-Fi. It only requires 12 volts and a single solar cell to run. Solar cells can also charge its battery, allowing usage of the portable water purification system to continue when the sun goes down.

“750 million people lack access to clean water across the globe. To be able to supply safe drinking water is one of the biggest challenges and one of the most important goals for humanity,” says inventor Kenneth M Persson, Professor ofWater Resources Engineering at Lund University.

In 2013, Kenneth M Persson and engineer Ola Hansson founded the company Watersprint, which has patented the technology that combines UV LED technology, intelligent software, and Wi-Fi to help disinfect and purify water.

Nobel Prize winner *Mohammad Yunus and his organization, the Yunus Centre, ordered ten portable water purification systems for so-called Micro Production Centres (MPC). The systems are for a pilot project in Bangladesh. The Yunus Centre intends to test whether or not the systems will produce clean water that can be sold for a small fee that will ultimately pay for the systems and their management.  The first unit was installed in October, and nine other units have been delivered for the pilot project in Bangladesh.

“It is important that the cost of purifying water is sustainable. Many people can now begin to purchase inexpensive, clean water, and at the same time – in accordance with Muhammad Yunus’s model – a lot of them can make a small profit by running the water purification plants,” Kenneth M Persson said.

The United Nations contracted Watersprint about placing 500 portable units in Bangladesh. The software monitors the machine. If a unit malfunctions, the unit will send out Text message alerts to any mobile phone that is connected to it. The LED lights on the machine will also signal a malfunction.

“The installations are hopefully only the first step to set up similar structures in several other countries that lack access to clean water,” stated Persson.


*Professor Muhammad Yunus was awarded the Noble Peace Prize in 2006 for his work on micro-loans and founding the Grameen Bank. Yunus also coined the term “social business”, which offers access to technologies and services for solving social or societal problems.

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