World Water Day: Tackling Water Scarcity and Sanitation Issues

UN Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 6 aims to “ensure availability and sustainable management of water and sanitation for all” by 2030. Lack of access to safe drinking water and poor sanitation negatively impacts food security, livelihood choices and opportunities for education.

2.4 billion people still lack access to basic sanitation services such as toilets or latrines. As a result, millions of deaths each year are caused by diseases associated with poor water quality, sanitation and hygiene.

However, some efforts made to improve the accessibility to water have been widespread and successful. “Between 1990 and 2015, the proportion of the global population using an improved drinking water source has increased from 76% to 90%”.

For World Water Day 2020 (22nd March), Minesoft is shining a spotlight on patented inventions that are sustainably improving availability to clean water and sanitation.

 

Lifestraw (US2012298583A)

Mikkel Vestergaard Frandsen, founder of Vestergaard and a listed inventor of Lifestraw has established his company around the model of humanitarian entrepreneurship which actively works towards achieving the UN SDGs. Lifestraw is an award-winning invention that filters out 99.99…% of bacteria, parasites and microplastics, allowing the user to simply dip the straw into contaminated water and orally suck the water through the filter to receive clean drinking water. One straw can filter up to 4000 litres (1,000 gallons) of water and can last up to 5 years. Presently, the straw is retailed and marketed as a hiking accessory but is also distributed for free as part of public health campaigns and in response to disaster emergencies, like the 2010 Haiti Earthquake and 2011 Thailand floods, in developing countries. Vestergaard has also implemented a Give Back programme, which has led to 3.4 million children being given one year of safe water as a result of the 3.4 million Lifestraws sold.

Lifestraw patent drawing

Colorifix (US2018105977A)

In a video interview, Dr Orr Yarkoni, Co-Founder of Colorifix, explains that the inspiration for their method of dyeing fabrics using microorganisms stemmed from a trip to Nepal and Bangladesh to study the water quality. A reoccurring grievance from the local people interviewed in this study was that the textile industry polluted their water sources with copious amounts of chemicals.

So, in response, the team developed and patented a method of applying dyes to fabrics using microorganisms to replicate natural pigment DNA sequences found in nature which reduces the amount of water (up to 90% compared to traditional methods), chemicals and energy needed to dye fabric.

Colorifix’s dyeing method is used by luxury fashion manufacturers such as Tintex and Forster Rohner who manufacture textiles for brands including Christian Dior and Balenciaga. Swedish consumer fashion brand H&M is an investor in Colorifix, and British sustainable fashion designer, Stella McCartney, is an advocate.

 

The Janicki Omni Processor (US2016138433A)

The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation has been investing in sanitation projects since 2012 as part of their Water, Hygiene and Sanitation Program. As a product of this initiative, Peter Janicki in the United States developed a solution dubbed “The Janicki Omni Processor”. The Omni processor takes in faecal sludge and converts it into clean drinking water and energy. The system is entirely self-contained. The steam from heated wet sludge is filtered, condensed and output as 99.99% purified water. The solid dry waste is burned as fuel to heat a boiler, which generates steam, turns a turbine generator and produces electricity. This design is a long-term sustainable solution for areas with little availability to clean water and electricity which also incentivises better sanitation and hygiene practices.

 

CloudFisher (WO16062877A1)

This German invention is not the first design for a fog-collecting mechanism collecting water particulates from the surrounding air. However, these CloudFisher nets can capture more water compared to other designs, up to 6000 litres in one day! It just requires fog and ever-present gravity to collect water. The netting collects water droplets and when enough liquid has condensed, the droplets fall and collect at the bottom of the structure. This method is used in rural, mountainous areas in Morocco, Peru, Chile, South Africa and Tenerife among other locations. It is a low-maintenance, sustainable solution for collecting clean water that is changing the lives of communities in these areas.

Cloudfisher patent

 

By 2030 the UN aims to achieve universal access to clean water, provide adequate sanitation for all, and reduce water pollution by eliminating dumping of hazardous materials or chemicals into water sources. It is comforting to see that there are existing sustainable solutions already working to achieve these aims. However, there is still much work to be done to achieve the SDG by the end of the decade. This World Water Day, the team at Minesoft encourages you to consider how you can help practice sustainable water management, from reducing the amount of water you use per day or getting involved in global water scarcity projects.

To read more about SDG 6: Clean Water and Sanitation, click here to go to the UN website.

All the patents mentioned in this article are available on PatBase, the global patent database developed by Minesoft and RWS. Click here to open the folder containing these patents (link is valid until 13 Sept 2020). PatBase is an easy to use, high-quality patent information solution putting global scientific information at your fingertips. Get in touch with us today to start a 2-week free trial!

Minesoft is also proud to support knowledge availability in developing countries as a member of WIPO’s ASPI programme since it was launched 10 years ago. Through this programme, PatBase is offered to innovators, researchers and scientists in developing countries for a low-cost or for free. It is part of our company’s ethos to positively impact the world by opening resources for innovation globally. Read about Minesoft’s involvement in this programme here.