Aqua3DP: A solution to the fresh water crisis on Earth
A 3D-printed, filterless, saltwater purifier, powered by light and gravity, which converts the oceans of the world into drinkable water
Aqua3DP: A solution to the fresh water crisis on Earth
A 3D-printed, filterless, saltwater purifier, powered by light and gravity, which converts the oceans of the world into drinkable water
Like many people, Frederick Janson had many ideas on how to change the world to make it a better place to live. However, like many people, Frederick needed funds to develop a prototype, but needed a prototype to solicit funds, a paradoxical problem many people with great ideas faced, until 3D printing and crown-funding sites became more accessible and user-friendly.
In November 2013, Frederick Janson discovered that the Sacramento Library system was offering free access to 3D printers, 3D printing design software, and assistance with 3D printing, via a partnership with Design Spot.
Here, Frederick forged a number of wonderful relationships with staff, volunteers, and other 3D designers and learned how to design the first of the many 3D-printed environmental and medical products Frederick would like to design, to make the world a better place, the scalable Aquapura water purifier or solar still.
AN OPPORTUNITY TO MAKE THE WORLD A BETTER PLACE
"The world is a dangerous place to live; not because of the people who are evil, but because of the people who don't do anything about it" - Albert Einstein
Due to increased overpopulation, pollution, global warming, desertification, war, and corruption, the Earth is running out of easily accessible fresh water for drinking and food production.
An estimated 1/8 human beings on Earth don't have enough food to eat or clean water to drink, resulting in 7.6 million deaths per year, 1.5 million of whom are children as per statista.com and statistic brain.com.
According to the United Nations (UN), the lives of 1/7 people, or one billion human beings, are threatened by tropical or temperate desert biomes, characteristic of a gross shortage of water in the form of precipitation, to the extent that 41% of the land areas on Earth are considered deserts.
This project aims to raise funds to 3D-print, and eventually donate, the largest, affordable, green energy-powered, filterless, and durable, community-sized Aquapura water purifier or solar still, the first of its kind in the world, capable of turning dirty or salt water into clean water, for drinking and food production purposes around the world, to be able to begin to solve the global problem of access to clean water for approximately a billion people. The largest 3D printer in the world, currently in China, can 3D-print objects that are about 36' x 36' x 36' or 12m x 12m x 12m, the "stretch" goal of this project, as per the video above.
To raise the funds for this project, we will 3D-print and ship individual-sized (12" x 12" x 18”) and group-sized (24" x 24" x 36”) Aquapura units anywhere in the world, so that individuals and groups like campers, hikers, beach goers, nature lovers, fishermen, preppers, hunters, military folks, and/or anyone else, can purify saltwater or dirty water, using 3D-printed technology, and the renewable energy of the Sun and heat energy, making away with expensive filters that needs to be land-filled and perpetually replaced.
To raise funds for this project, we will reserve permanent spaces on this first community-sized Aquapura unit, where our supporters will be able to have their name and/or logo permanently 3D-printed on the side and/or top of the first community-sized unit, either in a stand alone manner, where the name and/or logo will take up a whole side or top of the unit, on a first-pledge-first-pick basis, or their name and/or logo will appear with the names and/or logos of others, on a single side of the first community-sized Aquapura unit.
Similarly, to raise funds, we will permanently publish the name and/or logo of our supporters on our website, www.aquapura3d.blogspot.com.
In addition, we will allow our supporters to determine where the first community-sized Aquapura unit will be located for the first, second, third, and fourth year.
Similarly, we will allow our supporters to determine where the first community-sized Aquapura unit will be donated in the world, with some restrictions, for example, it has to be donated to a community in need, a nonprofit organization, or a museum, but the supporter who has this choice will not be allowed to be affiliated in any manner with the organization or community that they choose to donate the unit to.
Last, to raise funds for this project, we will provide our supporters with the 3D printing object file for the Aquapura design for the personal, group, large, and community-sizes.
Our goal is to raise enough money to eventually give this first community-sized unit away to allow others to purify saltwater, and to educate the world about how 3D printing technology can be used to improve the standard of living for a billion people or more on Earth.
Should we drastically overshoot our funding goal, then we will use the excess funds to launch an organization that 3D-prints more affordable individual, group, large (8' x 8' x 16'), and community-sized (36' x 36' x 36') Aquapura units, to make them accessible to those who are most in need. In short, our organizational mission will be to increase the affordable access to clean water on Earth.
This shortage problem doesn't just affect poor countries and poor people, as California, one of the richest areas in the world, has been experiencing with their extreme drought conditions for years. California feeds much of the world with its agricultural sector, which nearly ran out of water this year, with an estimated 80% of water going to industry, despite the fact that California is the most populated state in the fourth most populated country in the world. This has caused water and food shortages and price hikes in not just California, but the world.
If a billion plus thirsty and hungry people on Earth (a large market) had affordable access to purified water (almost every desert in the world, where a billion people live, is connected to a source of saltwater) for drinking and food production, then the G20 (the 20 richest countries) would no longer have to significantly financially-support more than half of the countries in the world, to the same extent that they do. Similarly, the alternative is desalination plants that run on fossil fuels (which increase global warming and thus increasing the area of desserts around the world, and further increases the freshwater crisis on Earth), or nuclear energy (which comes with its own risks to life on Earth, especially with respect to containment, as proven in Fukushima Japan, Three Mile Island, Chernobyl; waste management, as radioactive waste can remain radioactive for thousands of years; and/or the causal link between radioactivity and cancer).
Accordingly, improving the living standards of all the world's people, will result in the retention of significantly more funds for G20 countries, to better the world in a different manner, creating a brighter future for humanity, versus perpetually warring over the resources, like freshwater and food production, required to survive, and in a toxic manner that is threatening to wipe out 75% of the life on Earth.
Aquapura is a global solution.
THE PROTOTYPE TO THE SOLUTION
Having already researched, analyzed, designed, developed, printed, evaluated, and innovated several 3D Aquapura prototypes, the most recent prototype, about 1.5” x 1.5” x 3” or about 3.75cm x 3.75cm x 7.5cm, which is made out of corn-based plastic, was able to separate ocean water (3% salt) into drinking water and salt, within the Aquapura unit, in separate collection chambers.
This unit was tested throughout the month of September 2014 in Sacramento, California, whose summer time temperatures are lower than most of the major deserts of the world. The unit was tested in temperatures ranging from 80-100 degrees F, with humidity ranging from 12-15%, and yielded 3%-10% purified water from the total volume of water added within 1-3 hours.
THE PROTOTYPE DESIGN, EVALUATION, and INNOVATION
A. THE PROTOTYPE DESIGN
B. AQUAPURA PROTOTYPE I EVALUATION AND INNOVATION
The first Aquapura prototype presented a very important learning opportunity with respect to the employment of "supports" in 3D printing, required to allow 3D printing to build upon a space that is otherwise thin air. Here, supports were employed, and the device was printed with the lid on the unit, versus separately, resulting in the in-filling of the salt and purified water chambers with support material, which was impossible to remove without damaging the unit, using the MakerBot technology that was employed. Other 3D printing technologies print a support material that can be dissolved. Accordingly, the device was cut in half to identify this problem, revealing that a solid block of plastic was printed, instead of a unit with chambers, illustrated above. The solution to this problem was to print the lid and base unit separately.
As illustrated below, as not to waste the first prototype, half of the device was submersed in 3% salt water conditions, to test how long the corn-based plastic will take to lose its form and dissolve, without the use of a protective non-toxic food-safe sealant (illustrated three images below), employed in the final design, or fourth prototype.
Though this is an ongoing experiment, two months later when one half of the first prototype was submerged in saltwater and subjected to sunlight was compared to the half that was not submerged and not subjected to salt water and sunlight, compared by equal force to both (unsuccessful attempted to push the handle of a spoon through both halves with as much force as I could muster in a sitting position), and comparing the fine 3D print textures (illustrated below), there was no observable difference between the two halts, which means that despite being soaked in salt water for two months in sunlight, this had no observable affect on the integrity of the corn-based plastic being used, which means that this plastic is very durable, and not easily dissolvable in water or sunlight.
A non-toxic, food-grade, protective sealant has been applied to the current or fourth prototype, to reduce the risk of 3D materials leaching into the Aquapura units, to prevent leaking, and to protect the unit from environmental exposure, increasing the useful life, and thus value of the Aquapura unit(s), illustrated below.
C. AQUAPURA PROTOTYPE II EVALUATION AND INNOVATION
Above is the second Aquapura prototype unit with drilled versus printed holes (though the holes could have been 3D-printed with little to no difficulty), 3D-printed with an orange base unit, and red lid.
As illustrated above, to repeatedly test the 2nd prototype, standard bathroom caulk was employed to seal the input and output holes or ports, and no protective sealant was applied, to see how much water could be purified.
As illustrated above by the water collected at the far end of the center chamber, and by the concave ceiling-dripped droplet patterns found along the center line of the center chamber, seven different experiments consistently revealed that when subjected to 1-3 hours of direct sunlight and/or combinations of shaded and direct sunlight conditions, when exposed to temperatures of 80F-100F, with 12-15% humidity, that 3-10% of the total initial volume was purified (central chamber), and when tasted, was unsalted, though the initial solution injected into the side/salt/dirty chambers was composed of 3% salt, to mirror the use of ocean water, which has a approximately a 3% salt content by volume.
Variations of these experiments were repeated a number of different times, and food coloring was added to to the side, saltwater, or "dirty" wells but consistently proved to be absent in the clear and purified captured freshwater found in the central chamber, as illustrated below, where the purple dye was clearly not present in the saltless purified water extracted from the center chamber.
The purified water in the central chamber was void of the fine purple dye, and saltless tasting, and so the experiments and device were considered a huge success! The opportunities to improve included, the unit design was found to leak and so a hard residue seal was used to plug the input and output holes for a few experiments, and a black food-safe sealant was applied to the second prototype, creating the third prototype, illustrated below, which increased the amount of water that was captured, but which did not entirely stop the leaks.
AQUAPURA PROTOTYPE III EVALUATION AND INNOVATION
AQUAPURA PROTOTYPE III
This third prototype, illustrated above, employed a hard resin sealant to reduce the leaking caused by the caulk, and a black food-safe enamel was employed to further seal with unit, and though dyed saltwater did yield clear unsalted water, salt crystal were found outside of the unit on the sides and bottom of the unit, which was printed at low resolution or quality, to maximize its size, to stay within the 3 hour print time maximum set forth by the Sacramento Library where the unit was printed for free.
The solution was to redesign and reseal (with a clear sealant - Mod Podge illustrated above) the unit with a significantly thicker floor and walls after the original design proved to have a near paper thin floor, and to print at a higher quality, which increased the density of plastic within the walls and floor of the unit, resulting in prototype IV, below.
AQUAPURA PROTOTYPE IV EVALUATION
The fourth prototype was printed using a higher quality setting using clear plastic and coated with a non-toxic or food-safe lacquer. It does not leak, captures purified water, and is ready to be printed in many different sizes, focusing on personal size (12" x 12" x 18”), group size (24" x 24" x 36”), large size (8'x 8' x 16'), and community size (36' x 36' x 36'), the last of which is the ultimate stretch goal of this project, supra.
Patent Pending, Frederick Janson, Submitted to USPTO October 2014
Risks and challenges
The risks and challenges to completing this project include the following.
RISK #1: Not securing enough funding to be able to print a community-sized Aquapura unit.
SOLUTION #1: The goal here is to build as big a water purifier as possible, based on the level of funding, otherwise only limited by the current scale of 3D printing technology, about the size of a 3 story building, so that when the final unit is donated, a community of human beings can use it to derive fresh water from salt or dirty water for a long period of time.
The current prototype, which has been tested and works, is currently big enough to fit in two cusped hands. This hand-sized prototype took 4.5 hours to print in two printing sessions, one 3 hour session for the base unit, and a 1.5 hour print session for the lid.
The next step in the development of this global solution is to print this as big as funding and technology will allow. Accordingly, even if we don't print a 3 story community-sized unit, as illustrated in the video, we will surely be able to print a much larger Aquapura unit than the current prototype, to be able to rehydrate more people than the current prototype more frequently, furthering our ultimate goal, to increase the availability of, and access to, clean water on Earth.
RISK #2: Not being able to access large enough 3D printing technologies.
SOLUTION #2: Extremely large (the size of a one story house or larger) plastic and graphene 3D printing technologies surfaced on the market in 2014 only, and are extremely limited in number, which means the demands for their use are high.
There are now a large number of companies that sell 3D printing technologies and services, but most of these companies don't make 3D printers that use plastic or graphene (preferred printing materials) that print objects larger than about a meter cubed or 3' x3' x 3'. That said, even being able to print off a unit this size would be able to sustain a family in Ethiopia, Sudan, Mexico, or India, all of whom have ample access to seawater and hot environments, but who are truly in desperate need of clean drinking water.
Here, money talks, and so the more funds we can raise, the more likely we will be able to have our project be "prioritized" for mega-sized printing on the few mega-sized plastic or graphene 3D printers currently available in the world, to minimize this risk.
As a last resort, if we are not able to access, use, or buy a building-sized 3D printing technology system in time to meet the deliverables in the rewards section, and/or due to inadequate funding of the project, we will print off family or group-sized units for donation instead, as there are many more companies offering printing services and/or technology at this scale than the building-sized scale machines that are just coming onto the market.
RISK #3: Not being able to print the large-scale 3D Aquapura unit in time to meet the deliveries associated with the rewards.
SOLUTION #3: The largest 3D printing technologies in the world take 10 days upwards to 3/4 of a year to print off a house-sized object, and so a year and two months have been allocated to print off this large-scale Aquapura unit on time to meet all deliverable times communicated in the rewards section.
Also, 3D printing software communicates how long a print will take, prior to printing, and so the print time will be set in such a manner as to be able to make the deliverable times, to minimize this risk.
RISK #4: The community-sized Aquapura unit may be too big to transport.
SOLUTION #4: Here again, the more funding that is ultimately received for this project, the more options will be available for transporting this unit. To hedge this risk of the unit being too large, the Aquapura unit was designed in a box-shaped manner, to be printed in lightweight plastic or graphene, to made it more easy to transport.
The input holes or ports can be used by a crane to load this box-shaped unit onto a boat or flatbed trailer with ease.
As a last resort, 3D printing software allows for a scaling up or down of a printed object, and so depending on the total number of funds raised, the final size of the unit can be scaled to fit the size of a tractor trailer shipping container, which would be a unit size that could support a small community's hydration needs.
That said, the larger the size of the unit, the more people, animals, and/or crops can be hydrated.
RISK #5: Other commitments or projects may interfere with the completion of this project.
SOLUTION #5: To hedge this risk, I can reduce the number of graduate business classes I teach at any point, and I am soley committed to this single project only until it succeeds, afterwhich, I will start on my next project (which will also change the world!).
RISK #6: Unexpected events could derail this project.
SOLUTION #6: Paraphrasing Michael Dell here, "expect to fail 80% of the time, make all of your mistakes as fast as you can, and learn from each mistake, and in the last 20% of your efforts is where you will find success".
Coupling this with a contribution from William Edward Hickson, "Tis a lesson you should heed: Try, try, try again. If at first you don't succeed", supports the need to see this project through, despite unexpected changes in the plan along the way.
Though a work breakdown structure and KPIs will be used to measure the different stages of this project, as Heraclitus once observed, and paraphrasing, "the only thing that is certain is that everything will change", supported by the chaos theory, butterfly theory, entropy, et cetera. As such, it is possible that everything will go as planned, but it is also possible that everything will not go as planned, but quoting William O'Brien, it is "better to try and fail [to find a global solution to the fresh water crisis], than never to try at all".
RISK #7: 3D printing materials may leach toxins into the water purification process.
SOLUTION #7: A non-toxic lacquer will be applied to the inside of the large-scale Aquapura unit, to prevent toxins from leaching into the water purification process. An occasional gentle cleaning with soap and very little water, as well as cleaning out the salt or waste chambers between uses, will significantly hedge the risk of other nasties growing inside the unit.
RISK #8: This design won't work everywhere on Earth all of the time.
SOLUTION #8: This is true. This design won't work everywhere on Earth all of the time, but it will work almost everywhere on Earth, where it needs to work the most, specifically, it will work in densely populated areas hot enough to evaporate water, like most of the major desert regions on Earth.
Everywhere else on Earth, where it is not hot enough to evaporate water, people do not have as much trouble accessing water, precisely because water doesn't evaporate as readily as it does in the hot desert regions on Earth, so these non-desert regions have greater access to water, and sometimes too much access to water, causing excessive rainstorms, snowstorms, ice storms, and seasonal flooding.
Of the major desert regions of the Earth, the Great Basin Desert of the American Southwest, the Peruvian and Atacama Deserts of Western South America, the Patagonia Desert of Eastern South America, the Sahara Desert of Northern Africa, the Arabian Desert of Saudi Arabia, the Turkestan Desert (Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, Afghanistan, and Pakistan), the Great Indian Desert, the Gobi Desert (China, Tibet, and Mongolia), the Kalahari and Namib Deserts of Southern Africa, and the Australian Deserts, almost all of these lie along a large body of salt water, or not far from a large body of salt water, and almost all of these boast the hottest average annual temperatures on Earth, essentially because they lie within the most concentrated blast zone of the Sun.
The United Nations (UN) has reported that the lives of 1 billion people in 100 countries in the world are threatened by the world's deserts.
Accordingly, the 3D-printed Aquapura water purification system or solar still is ideal for these populated major desert regions, whose mean annual temperatures are the greatest on Earth, and the Aquapura purifier also works in many non-desert regions on a seasonal basis, for example, the Aquapura water purifier will work on the East Coast of the United States or Canada during the summer months, but not in the winter months, a function of insufficient temperature or infrared light.
Risk #9: The Aquapura unit will not yield a fixed quantity of water all of the time.
Solution #9: This risk is similar to risk #8, in that all water purification technologies and solar still technologies depend on variable prevailing temperature, vapor pressure, evaporation pressure, and/or the humidity conditions, in order to work at all.
Unlike most solar still or water purifier makers, I won't make the claim that this unit always produces a given amount of water under all environmental conditions, because that would be misleading. The truth of the matter is that no maker of a water purifier or solar still can make this claim, because of the physical properties of water, and the variable nature of the environment, though many makers of these sorts of devices imply that their devices purify a given quantity of water regardless of the environmental conditions, in a deceiving manner.
This design has proven to work between temperatures of 80F and 100F or 30C to 40C, with 12-15% humidity, but is not limited to these temperatures or humidity, which has in approximately 1-3 hours yielded approximately 3-10% of clear and non-salty water from the total volume of food coloring-dyed saltwater, when subjected to this range of environmental conditions.
The mean annual temperature of deserts around the world is 66F-77F or 20-25F, with highs of 49F or 120C, and lows as cold as -18C or -0.4F, per University of California. The months with higher temperatures are more likely to yield more water faster.
Risk #10: The device will eventually succumb to exposure to the elements.
Solution #10: This is true for pretty much everything on Earth. If you leave anything outside long enough it will eventually be broken down, by the Sun, rain, wind, sand, and/or microbes. The non-toxic food-safe laquer applied to this device protects the device against environmental conditions, but for a limited amount of time, like with anything else left outside on Earth for a long enough period. Accordingly, covering the unit or storing the unit when temperatures are below freezing or excessively hot is recommended. For example, in very hot climates, it is recommended that the unit be covered with shade, as the external temperature of the air alone will be sufficient to cause water to evaporate.Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
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