The Center for Disease Control estimates that 9.1 percent of global disease could potentially be prevented by cleaner water and improved sanitation. One European-based company is aiming to provide fresh, drinkable water; Internet connectivity; and free electricity to a community in need.
Watly is world’s first, and largest, solar-powered computer that uses thermal technology to provide clean water, electricity, and Internet connectivity to about 750 people. Measuring in at about 131 feet (40 meters) long, this machine can sanitize up to 1,320 gallons (5,000 liters) of water a day, while generating electricity that can be used to charge external devices. Watly is also built with a 3G/4G router that gives people access to the Internet.
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The system uses a vapor compression distillation process and can desalinate sea water and get rid of pathogens and pollutants. Photovoltaic panels on top of the machine are used to generate electricity. The excess electricity, stored in a 140 kWh internal battery, can be used to charge up gadgets, like smartphones, lamps, and laptops. The Watly offers up to 1,640 feet (500 meters) of Wi-Fi connectivity and can send any kind of data, such as texts, videos, and images.
Prototypes of the solar-powered machine have been tested in the last three years. The official trial took place in a village in Ghana, earning the company several awards and over $2 million in funding. Though this investment went towards building the pre-industrial version of the machine, the company has launched an Indiegogo campaign to expand the project. For one unit of the Watly system, the company would have to raise $75,000 and receive the matching funds promised by a philanthropist. That type of unit would only provide clean water for the next 15 years. For $325,000, an entire hub with built-in Wi-Fi capabilities and electricity can be built.