Submitted by: Stephan Augustin Produktentwicklung
Implemented country: Yemen
Title: Watercones® Turn Brackish Water into Drinking Water
The Watercone® is a simple, solar desalination device that turns brackish water and even water tainted with heavy metals into drinking water. The inventor of the Watercone® is Stephan Augustin from Germany, who is also an industrial designer for BMW. One year, during his vacation, as he was sitting in a coffee shop in the Canaries and looking out on to the Atlantic Ocean, he saw a huge water reservoir but the water was undrinkable. Back in Germany he could not forget that memory and went to work on a solution. One year later the first Watercone was built. Rigorous testing certified that the device produces water quality according to WHO guidelines. In 2008, Augustin formed a partnership with Mage Water Management, granting them production rights as well as worldwide distribution rights for the Watercone, which has a 5 to 8 year lifecycle.
The Watercone works according to a simple principle: You fill it with salt water and expose it to the sun. The longer the better, and the hotter the better. The water evaporates and forms water drops on the inside of the Watercone, from where the drops run into a trough at the bottom of the Watercone. Per day the Watercone condenses approximately 1.6 liters of water, enough water for one child per day. The Watercone® is a blessing for millions of people all over the world, including Yemen thanks to CARE, an international aid organization, where in Zinjibar, 80 kilometers east of Aden and off the coast large-scale field trials were conducted. The German Hans-Sauer Foundation funded the project with 12,000 euros. In Zinjibar it rains about 3 times per year. Even in winter temperatures usually don’t drop below 30°C and there is sunshine all day. Drinking water wells are about 15 kilometers away and if you want to buy bottled water you have to travel an entire day to the next market. The ocean, however, is outside your front door.
10 families were given 10 Watercones each. Each family consists of typically 3 to 4 adults and 5 to 6 children. The Watercones are filled with salt water and placed on top of the flat roof in the sun. After 24 hours people have drinking water– 1.6 liters per device! So, 10 devices per family yield 16 liters. This meant a huge change in the life of these people. Groups formed that would guard the Watercones during the night and then in the morning the water would be distributed. The fishermen now take Watercones with them in their boats. A new tea-drinking culture was established. For the Watercones, Yemen was the acid test, where its feasibility was tested for an entire year and found to work extremely well. Now, people can produce their own drinking water free of charge, cleanly, and efficiently. The fishermen are delighted, saying that the Watercone® water tastes even better than the bottled drinking water they used to buy.
„Many small, decentralized units guarantee a better water supply system than a large centralized provider. When a small unit fails, there are still many other working units.”