UPDATE -- Nearly to third Stretch Incentive, and we updated the Stretch Incentive list! Please scroll to bottom to see Stretch Incentive List.
Water Wasp helps you prepare like no other water purification system
What it would take for the water from your kitchen tap to stop flowing? It happens more often than you would think. Disasters can make our comfortable lives resemble those of people in Developing Nations, where clean water is luxury. Some of the worst conditions leave people without potable water for days and weeks, and drinking water is contaminated with microbes that lead to over 2 million deaths per year, mostly people in Developing Nations who have no choice but to drink contaminated water. There are lots of ways to make sure you have clean water, and every system has its strengths and limitations. But if you live near the ocean with lots of sunlight, and you want a way to make water for months and years without a constant supply of complex filters, electricity, and if you want to be prepared for hurricanes, earthquakes, nuclear disasters, tsunamis, drought and unrest, then Water Wasp stands clear;
Help yourself and others ...
With Water Wasp you can stay prepared, and you can help those around you. Grab a bucket of nasty flood water or salty ocean water, and the sun will heat the basin to extract the pure water, drop-by-drop, about a gallon of pure water per day in hot climates. And when you back this project, along with your own Water Wasp, you'll help our continuing efforts to bring reduced-cost versions of these solar stills to people in Developing Nations.
We've made lots of solar desalination units over the years, and they've seen action in countries around the world, but these units are both our most advanced and easiest-to-use yet.
Some of our research used for the Water Wasp was published in a key peer-reviewed Desalination scientific journal, please click here for the super-sciency details, if you're into that stuff; http://www.maneyonline.com/doi/pdfplus/10.1179/2051645214Y.0000000019
Help those who need it most ...
This project is different from other Developing Nations water programs that you see around. From the beginning, we recognized that sustainability applies to small local economies as well as environments. The Water Wasp has been designed to be made IN the communities in which they will be needed. Rather than wait for a water handout, local developers will be able to make these units on site, using both local and imported components. It took us five years to continually modify designs and production methods to get to this point, and in the world of Solar Desalination, these units are like nothing before; lightweight, robust, easy-to-use and effective.
So as you prepare for anything Mother Nature or civilization can throw your way, you'll do it knowing that this advanced technology is going to help you prepare, and soon help children and adults in Developing Nations.
Build Quality ...
We've been making robust solar stills from a variety of different plastics for years. But there is one thing we've always known ... normal plastics break down quickly in sunlight, so we've always gone the distance and used only UV-stabilized plastics, that are designed to last 4 to 6 years in direct sunlight, and indefinitely with intermittent use. (Be sure to not let your Water Wasp run dry, because these units capture a lot of solar energy, and they can overheat without water inside, which can damage the unit.)
Water Wasp is made with military-grade fittings, a powerful composite access zipper, string-reinforced multi-layer plastic and the kind of robust resilience that you would expect from a piece of equipment tested in harsh tropical environments.
Water Wasp is definitely not a water filter ...
If you already have a home water filter, or a backpacker's water filter, you've probably found them useful, and there are hundreds of them out there in every variety; ceramic, activated carbon, sand, fabric, high-tech, low-tech, expensive and cheap. But you may have noticed that regular water filters remove mainly suspended solids, the organic stuff that is carried in the water and which can give your water a yucky color and a yucky taste. But the other dangerous stuff in your water is high concentrations of dissolved solids. Water loaded with dissolved solids may look clean, but toxic metals and radioactive emitters can be laced in the water, and filters will let them pass right through into your drinking cup then into your body. There are water filters that promise to remove some dissolved solids like arsenic and heavy metals, but these use up catalytic and carbon filters, and the more contaminated your water, the quicker these advanced filters become ineffective. Water Wasp can handle any load of dissolved metals and salt without losing efficiency. You may still want your water filter for the easy-to-treat water, but for the really challenging conditions, Water Wasp is the right tool for the job, it removes contaminants both suspended and in solution.
Why do filters have a such a tough time with so many dissolved materials? Because dissolved solids are molecules of toxins that intermingle with the water molecules, and filters are designed to remove particles much bigger than the water molecules themselves. To remove those dissolved toxins for weeks and months, you'll either need a complex reverse osmosis desalination system, or an evaporation still like Water Wasp. The heavy metals, the salt, and the toxic brine stay behind in the basin, while the pure water collects in your center catch-container. Just zip open your Water Wasp, and pour the pure water into your drinking container.
What about radiation?
After a nuclear accident, radioactive emitters have been shown to collect in water. And while the radiation itself isn't too dangerous when you're far away from the accident, the emitters can be highly toxic to drink and can travel far from the nuclear accident. How toxic? An alpha emitter like Polonium is actually the most toxic stuff on Earth, about 250,000 times more deadly than hydrogen cyanide. But the good news is that pure water, separated from contaminated radioactive emitters, can only hold radioactivity for about a day. So if you solar distill your pure water, and then wait a day before drinking your purified water, you will dramatically increase your water safety after a nuclear accident.
Setup and operation ...
We loved our old units, but they were heavy and took a while to set up. The Water Wasp just takes a few minutes to set up, and it's easy enough for a child to operate. In fact, it was designed for children to operate in Developing Nations, because they tend to spend their time near the home, and they're often the ones most sensitive to contaminated water.
Can it really make ocean water drinkable?
When you first turn ocean water into drinking water, you'll feel like a superhero, because it's an ability that wasn't available in such a simple way in your parent's generation. But the amazing part is to see and taste how pure solar distilled water can be, even more pure than tap water or high-quality bottled water.
Okay, but how does purified ocean water actually taste?
It's hard to convince people that inside of every bucket of ocean water is a slightly smaller bucket of highly pure drinking water, wanting to get out and hydrate them! But it's true, and the first time you turn ocean water into drinking water, you'll feel like you just invented the ocean. Of course, if the developer of the Water Wasp REALLY trusted that unit, then he would give some of the water to his own child, right? Sure, here y'go!
What about those hand-dug ground stills that survivalists make out of a sheet of plastic and a bucket?
We grew up making hand-dug ground stills, and they never quite worked properly. It was always one of those things where our instructors told us something like "This is just for practice, if you really needed the water, you would dig about ten of these." Well, we dug ONE of them, and easily sweat out more water than the still made. It was dirty work, hard work, and then when the still was set up, we found that most of the solar energy was sucked away from the ground itself before making water. Sure, it probably would help to know how to do it, but it's sort of like having waterproof matches even if you have successfully started a fire by rubbing sticks ... if you want to be safe and prepared, have the right tools for the job; Water Wasp is that kind of tool.
Help people in Developing Nations when you back this project.
We've spent years working to get simple, robust solar desalination to the people who need it most, in places like Haiti, West Africa, Bangladesh and the South Pacific. We've made a lot of product, but we've never been able to make them inexpensive enough to allow effective manufacturing and distribution in Developing Nations in large quantity. Water Wasp is a significant step forward in this goal, because they can now be made on site, where they are used, to dramatically lower production costs. The right product will allow profitable, micro-economy development in the places where the filters are needed. We have worked to involve local production, local distribution and local business. That's a sustainable business model, and it makes the units less expensive when local manufacturing can avoid import duties. Success with this Kickstarter will allow us increased visibility and working capital to expand production to the people who in countries who need it most. Your help to make that happen is deeply appreciated.
As these stretch incentives unlock, they'll add capabilities and ease of use to the Water Wasp units. We've design them to fit inside the Water Wasp bag for self-contained convenience.
Here is the link for the Water Wasp Facebook page:
Here is the link for the Water Wasp YouTube page, please share the link: https://www.youtube.com/user/SEAPanel
Within the U.S., single units ship for $12, the Swarm 2Xships for $15 and the Swarm 6X ships for $38. In Canada, in U.S. Dollars, shipping $34, $40 and $70 respectively. For the rest of the world, the single units are $44, the Swarm 2X ships for $52 and the Swarm 6X ships for $118.
We would like to bring down the shipping costs outside of the U.S.A., but these are the prices that were computed for us by the U.S. Postal Service, using their most economical package air service, and that's for us preparing all the Customs and labeling, which saves a bit too. If this Kickstarter is successful, we're going to spend a little time with DHL and UPS to hopefully find a cheaper option. If we find a cheaper one, we'll lower the shipping costs. BUT, the price of International shipping has skyrocketed over the last few years, it's an unfortunate side-effect of shipping out of the U.S.A.. We don't think it's fair, we don't like it, but we have to live with it. Given that, we don't plan to raise the shipping cost at all with stretch incentives, and the shipping is very reliable. In the last few hundred Kickstarter incentives that we shipping Internationally, not a single package was lost.
A little bit of our history with Water Wasp ...
While Water Wasp is a new product for us, we've been chipping away at the complexities of solar desalination as an effective tool for people, since 2009. Solar Desalination isn't new, but we saw untapped potential in using the sun to change ocean water and contaminated water into drinking water. It seemed obvious, but why had it not seen widespread commercial development? We understood that it couldn't meet the needs of large-scale water-making, but what about small-scale water-making? What about water for a small family in Ghana, for a few children with diarrhea in Haiti? For disaster recovery after hurricanes and earthquakes?
We were insufferable … worked to test product in our stylish development space. We talked endlessly about how we were going to change the world. I was the physicist, Dave D. was the designer/engineer, Randall ran the office and the social networking, Charlee set up sales and lab tests, Warren did shipping, and Ranjan helped with initial development. We got some good initial funding; a grant from the Environmental Protection Agency and a bigger grant from Alabama Launchpad, a business consortium, (for which we plan to return the favor eventually). We developed product as economically as possible, but even at just $50k for initial tool-up, we were far away from the kind of product that we needed to actually make a difference. Then the Haiti Earthquake hit. We had a couple skids full of solar desalination equipment, and no way to effectively get it to Haiti, where it could have saved lives, no way to set it up there, no way to make a difference. That was Lesson #1 into the reality of International water development. We could get fives and tens of products to Developing Nations, but getting hundreds and thousands of them required them to be low-tech and simple.
A year later I was in the office of a friendly banker for the International Monetary Fund, in Washington, D.C.. I was invited to demonstrate our product, and I was sure that real distribution was right around the corner. She thanked me for the product samples, but told me that the IMF couldn't work with us until we first moved tens of thousands of units. That's when I learned Lesson #2, that getting product launched and accepted in Developing Nations is far more difficult than getting it launched in the U.S.A. and Europe. We had the wrong product line for that. But something good happened in D.C., on the National Mall, when we demonstrated for the EPA's Sustainability Expo; we received interest from responders back from places like West Africa, Haiti and Bangladesh. They told us that our type of solar desalination could solve problems that filters and chemical treatment couldn't solve. We learned that just because people were poor, didn't mean that they were okay with drinking water from a sand filter or water that tasted of iodine or bleach. Rather then give up, we changed direction. If we were going to make a difference in Developing Nations, we needed to start from scratch with a completely different concept; Our research center had the most advanced manufacturing tools in the country, but we needed to not touch any of it, we had to learn to work with the tools available to the people who could make these things IN Developing Nations. We limited our palette like the writer of a sonnet or a minimalist artist, and we burned through hundreds of designs and variations. Heavy thought took a backseat to testing, testing, and testing. And if our improvement couldn't eventually be made by a minimally-tooled factory in West Africa, then it was rejected.
We did a lot of scientific research along the way, and that taught us something. But more importantly, we sold a good bit of product on the way to keep us going, both in the U.S.A. and internationally. Many of those sales taught us something new; we were getting closer. Our manufacturing costs and our cost-per-liter kept falling. And now we're at the Water Wasp, our breakthrough product, that has a performance envelope we wouldn't have been able to touch just one year ago.
We didn't get here by thinking like hipster inventors, or industrial designers with leather-bound notebooks and Google SketchUp. We tried that and frankly, it didn't do us a whole lot of good other than give us an excuse to drink a lot of delicious coffee. Instead, we got here by thinking like the owner of a tiny factory in the Sub-Sahara, or the mother of a child in Haiti who needs just enough clean water ever day to purge the life-threatening diarrhea. We try to think like an ambitious Bangladeshi student who sells bottled water, or a South Pacific business owner who needs some simple water-makers for his tribe.
We learned something important over the last five years … the Superbowl of water health is Developing Nations. When we can play ball at that level, we can play ball anywhere, and now we're getting closer. The problems that we now see in places like California, Florida and Hawaii, are the kind of problems that have been in places like Haiti and Bangladesh for generations.
Risks and challenges
Everyone presumably wants their Water Wasp as soon as possible. For less than 300 units, we are set up to manufacture locally and should have all the units out by 60 days after the end of the Kickstarter. If funding is successful for more than 500 units, then we'll have to add production capability, and up to an extra 30 days to ship all the units, however if you blow us out of the water, we'll be able to afford to tool up for high capacity, and there may not be a significant delay. We currently have a small production facility in Golden, Colorado, in the shadow of the Rockies. Early backers will be among the first ones shipped. In general, the early backers of the non-early-bird incentives go out first, then the early-bird incentives and the later backers. If you want your unit sooner, please back earlier.
We will start manufacturing these units right away, and thus ship right away, so some backers will get lucky and get set up with little delay, but if an impending tropical storm or hurricane threatens your area, we'll bump you to the top of the list.
We have sold and manufactured a much more complicated version of the Water Wasp for three years, so we're equipped and experienced to handle the production, and we won't need to rely on outside manufacturers to ship your incentives. Given that, production delays are inevitable, but we've carefully test manufactured these units, and don't expect major delays on most units. We've sourced alternate suppliers for our raw materials. We have a solid track-record with shipping product on time with our previous Kickstarters, about 600-some total backers, and we have a track record with making similar (but more complicated) flexible plastic solar stills, so we're ready for the fun stuff. Finally, we have manufactured the forerunners to these units in the U.S.A. for over five years and we're no stranger to production management. There is a big difference in getting your incentive from an outside contractor, and getting it from the group whom your back.Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
- (30 days)