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The Lifesaver bottle. It does what it says.
April 2, 2010 7:32 AM   Subscribe

Let me introduce you to the Lifesaver bottle. This very compact design (in both a bottle and a jerrycan form) allows someone to get clean drinking water in seconds. Their filters can last up to 20000 liters in the jerrycan form and 6000 in the bottle form. The price for this technology? $150 for the bottle and $400 for the top shelf jerrycan.

Via TED.
posted by DoublePlus (72 comments total) 17 users marked this as a favorite

 
There are much cheaper ways to do the same thing almost as quickly. This guy has made an advancement in marketing, not water filtering technology.
posted by 517 at 7:36 AM on April 2, 2010 [8 favorites]


Oh wow, I could have totally used that magic jerrycan in Caravaneer.
posted by orthogonality at 7:36 AM on April 2, 2010 [1 favorite]


There are lots of filtration systems out there. Including the LifeStraw, which according to wikipedia only costs $2. Is this one any better?

And then there's Dean Kamen's Slingshot, which actually distills water, removing dissolved chemicals, including salt and polution.
posted by delmoi at 7:39 AM on April 2, 2010 [1 favorite]


I sat next to a guy on a plane last week who designs water filtration plants. He talked about two main ways people are doing filtration these days: UV (he used the phrase "biocidal waves of light" which rocked my world) and filtration, which was his specialty. Either of those combined with chlorine will kill just about anything ("10 microns or smaller").
posted by These Premises Are Alarmed at 7:41 AM on April 2, 2010


I like how the filter shuts down and the bottle becomes unusable once the filter "expires."

$30 for a replacement filter? Outrageous.

He's just using activated charcoal in a new bottle. 517 is right.
posted by ged at 7:42 AM on April 2, 2010 [4 favorites]


Cool, but this simple to make filter represents a more real world solution.
posted by caddis at 7:43 AM on April 2, 2010 [1 favorite]


Metafilter: All you need is terracotta clay, a compliant cow and a match.
posted by Dmenet at 7:46 AM on April 2, 2010 [1 favorite]


why the cow?
posted by infini at 7:49 AM on April 2, 2010


Shit, infini.
posted by orthogonality at 7:53 AM on April 2, 2010


Ok, well obviously I should have done a smidge more research before I posted. But here's what I have to say so far.

There are lots of filtration systems out there. Including the LifeStraw, which according to wikipedia only costs $2. Is this one any better?

The source for that $2 dollar figure is a website that says "the manufacturers originally informed us the price was around US$2.00 but the price is now under review." So I don't know about that. Also the lifestraw filters down to 15 micrometers, while the lifesaver filters down to 15 nanometers. 15 micrometers is 15000 nanometers.


And then there's Dean Kamen's Slingshot, which actually distills water, removing dissolved chemicals, including salt and polution.

The slingshot currently hundreds of thousands of dollars with prices hopefully going down to around $2,000. It also runs on with an engine, meaning you have to provide it fuel.

He's just using activated charcoal in a new bottle.

The charcoal does not do the filtering, the 15 nanometer filter cartridges do.


I'm also confused by all the hate. I saw something I saw as interesting and wanted to share it. I'm sorry if it is not the absolutely most perfect water filtering device. Besides, the more options there are for people who need clean water the better, right?
posted by DoublePlus at 8:02 AM on April 2, 2010 [2 favorites]


I'm constantly hearing about projects to help deliver clean drinking water to Africa but I never hear about projects to help deliver projects that help deliver clean drinking water to Africa to Africa.
posted by DU at 8:15 AM on April 2, 2010 [7 favorites]


Water Blue.
posted by HumanComplex at 8:15 AM on April 2, 2010


Welcome to the Metafiltering device, DoublePlus.
posted by gman at 8:17 AM on April 2, 2010 [8 favorites]


Welcome to the Metafiltering device, DoublePlus.

Makes me wonder why I even try.
posted by DoublePlus at 8:20 AM on April 2, 2010 [1 favorite]


I like how the filter shuts down and the bottle becomes unusable once the filter "expires."

I could understand this snark more if we were talking about a printer cartridge or diVX or something else equally non-life-altering, but since we're talking about the possibility of water contamination (which carries serious health implications) having it cease functioning is a good thing.
posted by Challahtronix at 8:27 AM on April 2, 2010


Makes me wonder why I even try.

Just because some people don't like the subject of a post doesn't mean it's a bad post. Comments posting links to similar filtering devices or nerding out on the details of current water filtering technology is just as good or better than a lot comments saying "This is awesome!" If the point is to sell a product, than yes a negative reaction is bad, but if the point is to generate a good discussion then a negative reaction isn't necessarily worse than a positive one.
posted by burnmp3s at 8:29 AM on April 2, 2010 [22 favorites]


I like how the filter shuts down and the bottle becomes unusable once the filter "expires."

That's so, unlike your Brita filter at home, you don't keep cycling water through it after the filter isn't actually filtering.

Also, has Kamen ever designed anything that people actually use?
posted by electroboy at 8:31 AM on April 2, 2010 [2 favorites]


DoublePlus: "I'm also confused by all the hate. I saw something I saw as interesting and wanted to share it. I'm sorry if it is not the absolutely most perfect water filtering device. Besides, the more options there are for people who need clean water the better, right?"

DoublePlus, this hate is not directed at you. And it's hardly hate, but instead that skepticism is a way of life for most MeFites. Don't be sorry for anything, you have done what you should. You posted this filtration system and it, not your post, has been met with criticism.

Back on topic though: How long does it take for these filtration systems to be distributed to the places that need it? I feel like we only ever hear about this sort of stuff when it's in the development stage but never hear about its success (thinking OLPC).
posted by battlebison at 8:34 AM on April 2, 2010


Also the lifestraw filters down to 15 micrometers, while the lifesaver filters down to 15 nanometers. 15 micrometers is 15000 nanometers.
Is there any benefit to filtering at that level?
posted by delmoi at 8:37 AM on April 2, 2010


I'm also confused by all the hate.

It's not hate. It's just being critical.

I know the sting hurts. I put together what I thought was a kick-a$$ post once, and it got Simon Cowelled into oblivion. It also got deleted. And I was peeved for a while b/c I thought it was a good post. But in retrospect, it was no big deal, and I got over it. And you'll get over it too!

This is how the exchange of ideas works sometimes.

And think about what your post did - it got a discussion going. People mentioned other ideas, and we're all smarter for it (well, at least I am). All thanks to you!

So your particular discovery is not the best one - that's OK! You got people to think and to contribute and that is a good thing too!

Ok, I'm going to go away now and be bitter over my deleted post now.
Goddam, I thought I was over it.

posted by bitteroldman at 8:39 AM on April 2, 2010 [1 favorite]


burnmp3s, battlebison you're right. I don't know about you guys but whenever I make a post I want everyone to love it, so I got a little carried away.

But anyways, battlebison. I'm not quite sure what you're asking, but the bottle is currently available, and their first shipment of 1,000 bottles went to Haiti.
posted by DoublePlus at 8:47 AM on April 2, 2010


We're not hating on you, we're criticizing yet another product that claims to do something at a price that's several orders of magnitude too high for its target market.

The charcoal does not do the filtering, the 15 nanometer filter cartridges do.

What? On their website they talk about the filter cartridges using activated charcoal.

The developing world doesn't need $150 water bottles. It needs water filtration techniques and meaningful development aid.

I guess if you want to get technical then we're criticizing your Pepsi-blueness.
posted by ged at 8:48 AM on April 2, 2010


Just because some people don't like the subject of a post doesn't mean it's a bad post. Comments posting links to similar filtering devices or nerding out on the details of current water filtering technology is just as good or better than a lot comments saying "This is awesome!" If the point is to sell a product, than yes a negative reaction is bad, but if the point is to generate a good discussion then a negative reaction isn't necessarily worse than a positive one.

For instance, today I learned about Lifestraw. I'd never have heard of it without your post, so nice work. :)
posted by zarq at 8:51 AM on April 2, 2010


I saw this on TED quite a while back, and was all kinds of excited about it.... had been planning on buying a couple for the household emergency kit, etc. Until I saw the price.

Also, DU's comment is spot on the money. We non-Africa folk seem to do a lot of talking and inventing, but not a lot else. Sad but true fact for today, April 2, 2010.
posted by hippybear at 8:52 AM on April 2, 2010


Is there any benefit to filtering at that level?

In the TED talk the inventor says that small bacteria can be 200nm in size, small viruses, 25nm. The 15nm would presumably remove all little wiggly bits from the water.
posted by borkencode at 8:52 AM on April 2, 2010


Is there any benefit to filtering at that level? (15 nanometers)

Well, I'll admit I'm not very knowledgeable about these things, but this website says (about 3/4 of the way down) that viruses are 30-50 nanometers. So yes, if you want to get rid of viruses with simple filtration, going down to 15 nanometers does have a benefit.
posted by DoublePlus at 8:53 AM on April 2, 2010


Actually, you know what? It's even worse than I thought.

The activated charcoal insert costs $30 and is good for 250 liters (66 gallons) of water. The full filter is good for 6000 liters (1500 gallons) of water and costs $100.

So filtering those 6000 liters is going to also cost you $660 in activated charcoal cartridges for a total cost of $810.

This seems really really really expensive for what they're proposing. This is never, ever, in a million years, going to be a solution for the poor people of the world that don't have access to clean drinking water.
posted by ged at 8:55 AM on April 2, 2010 [1 favorite]


What? On their website they talk about the filter cartridges using activated charcoal.

Here's an answer from the website's FAQs to the question, "Will the bottle work without the 'activated carbon filter'?"

Yes - The carbon filter reduces a broad spectrum of chemical residues including pesticides, endocrine disrupting compounds, medical residues and heavy metals such as lead and copper. It also eliminates bad tastes and odours from contaminates such as chlorine and sulphur. It is designed to last approximately 250 litres.

The Activated Carbon Filter is an optional extra as all microbiological contamination is still removed from water using the LIFESAVER bottle without the activated carbon filter.
posted by DoublePlus at 8:58 AM on April 2, 2010


We non-Africa folk seem to do a lot of talking and inventing, but not a lot else.

Wha??
posted by Jaltcoh at 9:03 AM on April 2, 2010


I'm also confused by all the hate.

If I express my hate in real life, people punch me.
posted by digsrus at 9:04 AM on April 2, 2010 [1 favorite]


DoublePlus, this is the intertubes. There's civil discourse, sure, but there's also a legion of keyboard (armchair?) warriors.

I appreciate you have an interest in the topic, hey, you posted it. But I'd also suggest that you check out the MetaTalk section of the site to see what happens when posts really get thrown down.

Hang in there, ol' chap. More rough air ahead!
posted by cavalier at 9:06 AM on April 2, 2010


I don't think the LifeSaver is here to replace, you know, basic water service and sanitation. It's for emergencies, that's all. It's not meant to be something sustained. It's "here, you've got an island that just flooded. Four hundred bucks gets you 20,000 liters of drinkable water until they get their act together. Send one, fifty people get ten liters of good water for forty days." Boom, that's what it does.

The Lifestraw is good for when you're stuck out in the wilderness, maybe with a Steripen. The Slingshot, once its price gets down to something reasonable, is good for a village with some kind of heat source ... maybe rig up a solar concentrator. And if you have an emergency where the drinking water has been contaminated, this would be quite nice in a pinch. Each has its place.
posted by adipocere at 9:20 AM on April 2, 2010 [4 favorites]


Well, the higher filter capacity jerrycan works out to about 3.5 cents a liter^ and "It will remove bacteria, viruses, cysts, parasites, fungi and all other microbiological waterborne pathogens." and it has been independently tested (Is the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine reputable?) and production aside doesn't need an energy source. It might not be better* than iodine and a carbon filter but it is cool.

*Do carbon filters remove iodine? I thought having too much iodine could mess with the bacteria in your gut.

^$399.95 for the jerrycan and 299.95 for the 20 carbon replacement filters you'll need. After the initial purchase the next 20,000 liters would be about 2.8 cents a liter.
Figure 3 liters/day for drinking and cooking per person and it works out one jerrycan can provide very clean water for about 18 people for a year or less than $40 a year per person.

A jerrycan can because he filters it with love and makes the water taste good.

See what happens when I do math in the morning?!
posted by vapidave at 9:25 AM on April 2, 2010 [2 favorites]


I think its pretty healthy to be skeptical of high-tech devices like this that promise to save lives in extremely poor or disaster-devastated areas.

To put this in perspective, malaria kills about a million people annually, many of them children, most in Sub-Saharan Africa. At any one time, almost 250 million people have malaria.

Malaria is an eminently preventable disease. One of the most effective and efficient methods of preventing malaria is insecticide-treated bed nets, which cost about $10 apiece. They're cheap, effective, and we've known about them for decades. But millions of people still don't have them.

So when someone comes along with a new invention that costs 15-40 times as much as a bed net, its hard not to respond with the kind of cynicism that DU's comment exemplifies. The problem is not that the technology or idea is bad in itself. Too often, the problem is not lack of technology, its lack of political will to deliver that technology to the people who need it.
posted by googly at 9:39 AM on April 2, 2010 [3 favorites]


I'm constantly hearing about projects to help deliver clean drinking water to Africa but I never hear about projects to help deliver projects that help deliver clean drinking water to Africa to Africa.

I've heard of one. Some folks around Salt Lake City were concerned about drought problems in Northern Africa during the 80s and decided the best way to help out would be to pick a geographic sister city somewhere in Mali and focus their efforts there.

Of course, my understanding is that their solution to the water problem was to build wells. Not very sexy.

This is never, ever, in a million years, going to be a solution for the poor people of the world that don't have access to clean drinking water.

I suspect some of the people selling it believe that they can sell it to the governments and NGOs who will pick up the tab or otherwise figure out financing for the upfront costs. Some probably further believe if they can get some kind of initial market (whether it's governments or private parties in developed countries), economies of scale will kick in and they can sell more cheaply.
posted by weston at 9:39 AM on April 2, 2010


This is never, ever, in a million years, going to be a solution for the poor people of the world that don't have access to clean drinking water.

Well, like adipocere said,"I don't think the LifeSaver is here to replace, you know, basic water service and sanitation. It's for emergencies, that's all."

Also, The charcoal filters are an extra. They are not required to filter out viruses and bacteria, which is the purpose of the product.
posted by DoublePlus at 9:46 AM on April 2, 2010


I couldn't find an American patent, but I did manage to find the European Patent Office's patent (I really hope that link works.)

So basically you can filter water by passing it through a very fine filter. This works because bacteria are larger than the pore size and so water can go through the holes but bacteria cannot. Now as the filter pore size becomes smaller, more pressure is needed to push a certain amount of material through in a certain amount of time, and this pressure drop required goes up quite quickly as the pore size decreases (For example, see Pouiselle's Law. This is fairly self evident to anybody who has used a syringe filter to produce sterile water.).

His claim appears to be that portable filters which can exclude bacteria are fairly common, but that a smaller filter size, sufficient to exclude viruses requires a greater pressure drop. (Which might preclude the straw). His invention would seem to be a bottle which contains a pump which lets the user generate this pressure difference needed to push water through this filter.

Which is an OK idea, I guess, as far as things go.
posted by Comrade_robot at 10:05 AM on April 2, 2010


Oh. Okay. Well, I guess the search for something in which to store my lifesavers goes on.
posted by Naberius at 10:08 AM on April 2, 2010 [2 favorites]


Sounds great for the household emergency kit until you find out that the shelf life is 3-5 years. I know you have to replace water too, but I'm not thrilled with paying that much that often. Why should a sealed filter have a shelf life that short anyway? I can understand the activated charcoal, um, losing activation or whatever, but not the filter.
posted by RikiTikiTavi at 10:11 AM on April 2, 2010


Figure 3 liters/day for drinking and cooking per person

FWIW I think ~3/4 gallon of clean water per person per day, especially in a warm climate, is a bit shy.

The real needed breath through that need to happen (imo) are political stability in greater Africa, so effective long term infrastructure can be developed and cheap, sustainable, high yield desalinization.



DoublePlus: I say this with as much kindness as possible, honestly cross my heart: you are starting to cross the line into trying to moderate the thread. You've 6 of 36 comments as of this point. Deep breath, let the conversation happen.
posted by edgeways at 10:14 AM on April 2, 2010


^break
posted by edgeways at 10:15 AM on April 2, 2010


"FWIW I think ~3/4 gallon of clean water per person per day, especially in a warm climate, is a bit shy."

I tried googling and the answers were all over the place so my "research" amounted to me going to the fridge, looking at a 2 liter bottle and thinking "yeah, one and a half of those would probably do it". IOW - pulled out of my arse.
posted by vapidave at 10:31 AM on April 2, 2010


So, you guys need to stop focusing on the price. This thing isn't meant to sit in a store so someone in Nigeria or whatever can go spend their total annual income to buy one. The 82nd Airborne would airdrop pallets of these things during a disaster.

Also, another big point he makes is using something like this, rather then shipping big tanker trucks of potable water, lets the people stay up in the mountains/wilderness instead of massing together in tent cities which have enormous problems with disease and whatnot.
posted by sideshow at 11:08 AM on April 2, 2010


Oh wow, I could have totally used that magic jerrycan in Caravaneer.

Is there a way to secretly favorite something?
posted by Pollomacho at 11:10 AM on April 2, 2010


I want something that can remove chemicals and heavy metals.
Am I right in assuming the only way to achieve this is through distillation? And if this is the case, can someone point me in the right direction toward a campfire-based distillation device? Does such a thing exist?
posted by Baby_Balrog at 11:10 AM on April 2, 2010


Comments posting links to similar filtering devices or nerding out on the details of current water filtering technology is just as good or better than a lot comments saying "This is awesome!"

Couldn't agree more. Nothing makes me hit the "back" button on my browser faster than if the first 10 comments are all some variation of "wow, what a great fpp! Thanks for posting!" (most common in entertainment-related fpp's). Such offerings may make the poster swell with pride but for the average reader it offers zero content. I'd much rather read a polite rebuttal even if the reasoning behind it later turns out to be erroneous or off base.
posted by squeakyfromme at 11:12 AM on April 2, 2010


And if this is the case, can someone point me in the right direction toward a campfire-based distillation device?

Back in Tennessee we used to call that a still.
posted by Pollomacho at 11:21 AM on April 2, 2010 [4 favorites]


The big advantage of this device is that the infrastructure requirements can be carried out in a more stable or developed area, and then the product can be deployed in a high-crisis area without a lot of setup time or money. As we have seen and are seeing in Haiti, sometimes you just need to push resources into an area as efficiently as possible. Yeah, the thing is crazy expensive; how does the cost compare to having to ship clean water into a disaster zone for aid personnel? Even if the thing were only ever used to support foreign aid workers and not distributed to a displaced population, it would be worth it.

It's not a solution for long-term water inadequacy, but if I were deployed to an area where there was no safe water supply and I had a bunch of orphaned infants to make formula for, I'd sure as hell want one of these along.
posted by KathrynT at 11:38 AM on April 2, 2010


Why the fuck is the jerrycan $250 more than the bottle? Why can't you attach the filter used on the $150 bottle to a $4 plastic gas can and spend the saved $25 bucks on other third world necessities?

I bet this would be the the first thing to cross the minds of the purported recipients of the "tech."
posted by sourwookie at 11:51 AM on April 2, 2010


Er, "saved $246 bucks" I meant.
posted by sourwookie at 11:52 AM on April 2, 2010


Seems like a good emergency water source. Agreed that it is not a long term solution though.
posted by alexbiz at 12:01 PM on April 2, 2010


"Why the..."

The bottom of the line bottle at $150 filters 4,000 liters, the top of the line can at $400 filters 20,000 liters.
I should have linked to the pricing page when I quoted numbers.
posted by vapidave at 12:23 PM on April 2, 2010


Q. Will we give discounts for charities supplying 3rd world countries?
A. LIFESAVER systems does now offer discounts for charities, NGO’s and other AID organisation from around the world.


Still, I'm not sure where the hate is coming from. There's almost nothing on the website -- the official voice -- stating that this is a universal solution for the developing world. It's being marketed to outdoor recreationists and even militaries.

The TED talk is more about how it might be used in disasters. The key for me is that it eliminates one of the primary reasons for gathering people into refugee camps -- they can "stay put". That not only relieves the need for water trucks or digging new wells, it prevents a sanitation nightmare from the crowds.

Ultimately, this technology might easily scale and mass production would reduce costs (which he already estimates at 1/2 (UK) cent a day) -- not to mention a design that could potentially perform the service on a village water supply (solar powered pump?).

In the movie Paradise Now, about terrorism and the Israeli occupation of the West Bank, there is a small subtheme about clean water and the competitive -- and consumer-driven -- market in water filters there. I think something similar would develop in Sudan or Haiti quickly enough.

Some days MeFi is just too tough a crowd to be believed. Asking critical questions is one thing. Asking for more information is one thing. Asking for proven field implementation is one thing. But scoffing that it can't possibly solve the entire world's water problems in one fell swoop? Maybe this guy is the Norman Borlaug of H2O, maybe he's just another Richard Branson. But this is a problem that needs multiple solutions and badly.
posted by dhartung at 12:51 PM on April 2, 2010 [3 favorites]


Can these things make sea water drinkable?
posted by kirkaracha at 1:53 PM on April 2, 2010


Also, has Kamen ever designed anything that people actually use?

Yes, a couple of things here and there of note in the medical field. Granted, the Segway is out of its time and I have no need to quote Paul Graham on this, but when I see a handicapped individual make use of one of Kamen's devices in order to get around and compete in the world we live in, I tend to overlook Kamen's saganesque quirkiness and give him props for at least making a go of it in order to help other people.

There was hate in this thread? You're kidding, right?
posted by jsavimbi at 2:02 PM on April 2, 2010


but when I see a handicapped individual make use of one of Kamen's devices in order to get around and compete in the world we live in

Most sources seem pretty vague on what Kamen has actually produced. From what I can tell, he seems to have made bank on an insulin pump and sort of doodled around for the remainder of his career. Not to say his projects aren't interesting, but hardly widely adopted.
posted by electroboy at 2:40 PM on April 2, 2010


electroboy, you're probably right. The Segway was not a commercial success and it wasn't helped by monkey-in-chief being unable to ride one up there in the Kennebunks. Nonetheless, he's dedicated a major portion of his life trying to find new ways to help handicapped (medically or physically) people achieve a higher degree of mobility, thus enable them to overcome location-based barriers that would've hurt them in their careers or just in the pursuit of happiness.

I'm not laying down akimbo for the guy, but if he helped one person with a debilitating disease to become mobile with a sense of dignity, then I have to tip my hat to him.
posted by jsavimbi at 2:57 PM on April 2, 2010 [1 favorite]


Well, I think this is an awesome idea, DoublePlus. I agree that it's pricey for now, but it's clearly a step in the right direction, and I would think it would go down in price eventually.

Here's more info on the LifeStraw by one of its competitors, and also some info from GOOD magazine. I question the price of it, as it seems to increase every time there's reference to it - from $2 to $5, and in a site from South Africa has it selling at about $20.

Here's another article from GOOD Magazine last year that discusses solutions for clean water.
posted by jabberjaw at 7:24 PM on April 2, 2010


Been doing some research on this topic lately. Here's what I know:

This bottle is a water purifier, which means that it gets rid of bacteria AND viruses to EPA standards. The filter for this sucker is about $100 and cleans 250 liters of water. That works out to $0.40 per liter, plus a one time $50 outlay. By way of comparison, the Katadyn Exstream XR is $0.28 per liter with an outlay of $12, while Aquamira chlorine dioxide tablets cost about $0.63 per liter. You might also be interested in the various ultraviolet solutions, such as the Steripen Classic at $79 but only $0.09 per liter (4 AA Lithium batteries yield 85 liters).

If you don't require virus removal (i.e. you're in backcountry, U.S.A.), you have options like the Sawyer water bottle, which costs $0.03 per liter, or the Katadyn Hiker pump at $15 plus $0.21 per liter. The big drawback to bottles like the Sawyer (a standard Nalgene bottle with a mouth-operated filter) is that you can't squirt water out of it, you can only drink.


*Costs were calculated thus:

-cost per liter = cost of replacement parts / liter capacity of replacement parts
-initial outlay = cost of item - cost of replacement parts (if it comes with one)
-all prices current from amazon.com
-outlays would have to be repeated every time a device fails (the SteriPens,
for instance, are said to be prone to breakage and have a very high outlay)

posted by nzero at 2:54 PM on April 3, 2010


I should also mention that my values are all calculated using the manufacturer claims...I think using such is pretty safe as a mode of comparison, but I wouldn't rely on those claims in the field (i.e. take an extra filter with you :)
posted by nzero at 3:01 PM on April 3, 2010


here are some examples from Tata and Unilever in India.
posted by infini at 3:14 PM on April 3, 2010


nzero, the values you used to find the cost per liter for the lifesaver bottle aren't correct.

You say it is 100 dollars and filters for 250 liters.

The $100 filter you're talking about is the replacement filter on their website, right? Well they say that filter lasts 4000 liters.

And I think the 250 liter filter you are talking about is the carbon insert. This carbon insert does not do the virus and bacteria filtering, the $100 filter does.

So that means it is about $0.03 per liter, still with a $50 outlay.

Just wanted to clear that up.
posted by DoublePlus at 3:31 PM on April 3, 2010


Can these things make sea water drinkable?
posted by kirkaracha at 4:53 PM on April 2 [+] [!]


No; the holes are too big to separate out salt. Hand operated devices which separate out salt do exist (remember, the filter holes are smaller and so require much more pressure than even that required in this bottle) but can be very expensive ($895).

I should note that all of these are niche products, and that there is a good reason that this device is being marketed towards the people that it is being marketed towards. In terms of scale-up, this principle is already being used and is not unique to the inventor; I sit less than fifty feet away from a machine which uses an electric pump to drive tap water through activated charcoal, UV-light, and a nanopore filter, though the application is for scientific work and not drinking water (I drink tap water every day).
posted by Comrade_robot at 3:33 PM on April 3, 2010


nzero, the values you used to find the cost per liter for the lifesaver bottle aren't correct.

Crap you're right, good catch, I got my wires crossed on the 250 liter figure (the $100 dollars is the correct number though). So, it should actually have been $0.06, which is a much better number.

(for 4000 liters: 1x 4000 liter filter at $100 and 16x 250 liter charcoal inserts at $7.50 each gives $220 per 4000 liters, or $0.06 per liter)
posted by nzero at 4:12 PM on April 3, 2010


is it available in regular retail stores yet? i'd be interested to pick up a full kit
posted by infini at 4:19 PM on April 3, 2010


A former boss of mine is now involved with a charity called the Water School which teaches communities in Africa how to use solar disinfection to provide cheap, safe water. Apparently plastic bottles, a hard surface and the UV from strong equatorial sun is sufficient to kill off pathogens.
posted by sevenyearlurk at 4:27 PM on April 3, 2010


The carbon filter reduces a broad spectrum of chemical residues including pesticides, endocrine disrupting compounds, medical residues and heavy metals such as lead and copper. It also eliminates bad tastes and odours from contaminates such as chlorine and sulphur. It is designed to last approximately 250 litres.

Given that major soft drink mfrs have problems getting the pesticides out of their soda in places like India etc this filter seems to me to be a good thing. The price, otoh, maybe a problem were it ever to become a retail product for the common man.
posted by infini at 4:55 PM on April 3, 2010


Sorry, refugee camps aren't just about providing clean water. It's also about providing sanitation for waste, food, and safety from rioters or others who would take advantage of a social catastrophe.

This is, of course, not a new idea and I can't believe the MIT Safe Water for 1 Billion People project website hasn't yet been mentioned. It provides links and resources to all the current technologies used to help provide clean water to people around the world -- especially in developing countries:

http://web.mit.edu/watsan/

Sorry, but the UN and NGOs don't have hundreds of dollars to spend on water filtration devices. Heck, even normal consumers living in the U.S. would be hard pressed to justify a spend of hundreds of dollars on something they may never use. Smoke detectors didn't become popular in the U.S., as an example, until their price dropped below $20 (and a smoke detector is far more likely to be used in an emergency by most of us than need of a water filtration device).

And for the record, Dean Kamen invented the world's first insulin pump, used by millions of people, and the AutoSyringe, a mobile dialysis system. So yeah, many people appreciate his contributions to the world.
posted by docjohn at 5:48 PM on April 3, 2010


On a sidenote, I have in front of me a Sawyer 0.02 micron water purification system. It cost me under $140 and the water filter never needs replacing but only an occasional backwash with clean water. It's supposed to be able to clean 5 gallons of water in 45 minutes. I got it a year back.
posted by enamon at 6:31 PM on April 3, 2010


Well, for the record, the AutoSyringe isn't a dialysis system, it's an insulin pump (among other things). But like I said, made bank on a couple medical devices early on, and mostly succeded at promoting semi-useless or impractical inventions ever since. Unless you're planning on delivering clean water on your Segway.
posted by electroboy at 12:58 PM on April 4, 2010


Better, cheaper tech.
posted by five fresh fish at 1:51 PM on April 4, 2010


made bank on a couple medical devices early on, and mostly succeded at promoting semi-useless or impractical inventions ever since

I don't think that's really being fair to Kamen.

Let me be clear: for a long time, I didn't much like the guy. He actually spoke at my college graduation, and the whole thing left me thinking he was wasting my time as much as all the hype-and-eventual-wtf? around the Segway did.

Nevertheless, over the years, what I've come to the conclusion of is that he uses his more "marketable" ideas (Segway) to help keep his business afloat, while he works on a lot of other interesting stuff. Things like wheelchairs that walk up stairs and amazing prosthetics.

Is everything he makes a commercial success? No. But, I find it hard to fault the guy for how much he appears to be trying to advance the state of the art in a variety of areas related to accessibility for the handicapped. There will always be failures when it comes to products like this, but I think the world needs people like him pushing on these sorts of problems if we're ever going to truly solve them.
posted by tocts at 10:48 AM on April 5, 2010


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