Thursday, September 4, 2008

Innovating for a Cause

These statistics scary: 2 billion people don’t get enough to eat, 1 billion survive on less than a dollar a day, and 1.4 million children die because they lack sanitary conditions and access to clean water. There are some companies that are innovating to help decrease these numbers. This article on the Discovery Channel website lists a “Tech Top 10 list” featuring innovating products that are helping those in disadvantaged areas. Here are some of the innovations listed in the top ten.

1. LifeStraw: Thousands die daily from ingesting contaminated water. Vestergaard Frandsen, a Danish textile company, collected a raft of awards last year for their mega-filtration LifeStraw, which can turn muddy puddles into safe drinking water. The blue straw removes waterborne diseases and miniscule particles, halting the spread of illness in its dirty tracks.

2. Q-Drum: Clean water, when available in developing areas, can be excruciatingly heavy to transport. The Q-Drum, which looks like a Q, is a simple and brilliant solution at use in rural parts of Africa. The plastic donut-shaped container can hold 50 liters while rope threaded through the center enables it to roll right over the bumps. They're also stackable up to 40 high.

3. Sugarcane Charcoal: Deforestation in developing areas makes wood charcoal for fuel severely problematic. MIT students taking a course called D-Lab: Development, Design and Dissemination came up with a charcoal using begasse, plant waste from sugarcane processing. Dried begasse is burned, carbonized and pressed into briquettes that work just as well as the wood kind. The technique was put to the test in field demonstrations in India, Ghana, Brazil and Haiti.

To see the entire top ten list, click here. This picture below was taken from the Discover Channel article and show cases the LifeStraw.


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