Dean Kamen and Coca-Cola have teamed up to provide an innovative solution for providing clean water to those who need it. Today more than 1 billion people lack access to safe drinking water and using a process called vapor compression distillation, a single Slingshot device can purify more than 250,000 liters of water per year, enough to fulfill the needs of about 300 people. The Slingshot device created by Dean Kamen can do so with ANY water source – sewage, seawater, chemical waste – no matter how dirty. The Slingshot boils the water to steam and then compresses the water back into liquid form. The method uses no filters, no membranes and no chemicals to perform the process of distilling. The transformative and life-changing device is being rolled out within modular community market’s called Ekocenters.
The community centers can be dropped into underdeveloped villages all over the world. The Ekocenter modular community markets are run by local women entrepreneurs and do not only provide safe water. They also provide solar power and Internet access. Working with the Coca-Cola company fifteen machines were built and installed in Ghana, and based on test results more Slingshots will be installed around Africa and Central America. The Coca-Cola Company is partnering with Solarkiosk, to roll out EKOCENTER in six countries in Africa and Asia in 2015.
Slingshot creator, Dean Kamen was also the mastermind behind dozens of medical-equipment inventions and, most famously, the Segway personal transportation device. Dean Kamen is a modern-day Thomas Edison. He holds hundreds of patents, and his creations have improved countless lives. His current projects include a robotic prosthetic arm for DARPA and a Stirling engine that generates affordable electricity by using “anything that burns” for fuel. The Slingshot, more than 10 years in the making, could have a bigger impact than all of his other inventions combined. Dean says that fifty percent of human disease today is caused by waterborne pathogens. Further, he says that two million children aged five and under die every year from bad water.
Faced with the challenge of how to get the purifiers mass-produced and into the hands of those who needed them a frustrated Kamen had the insight. “You talk to people that travel a lot and they say, ‘If there’s one thing you can buy anywhere in the world, it’s a Coke.’ You know the joke: A guy takes three weeks climbing to the top of Mount Everest; he gets to the top and buys himself a Coke. So I thought, Coke is something you drink, and they have coolers that are about the size of our machine, and they have bottling partnerships around the world. I’m going to go and try to convince them to do this.”
Fortunately, Coke CEO and chairman, Muhtar Kent was supportive. Kamen says, “within a couple of minutes of meeting Muhtar, I realized he’s not like an accounting guy; he’s a big-picture, global thinker.
Derk Hendriksen, the general manager of the Ekocenter program shared,
“We believe Coca-Cola’s business can only be as healthy as the community it is part of, so the well-being of the community is important to our long-term strategy.”
Kamen hopes to seed thousands of the units with local village entrepreneurs, in much the same way independent cell phone businesses have thrived and gradually changed the face of many impoverished areas around the globe.