Energizing a Continent

Off-grid provides lighting for families using a subscription service.
Off-grid provides lighting for families through a solar panel subscription service.

In my last post I mentioned non-profit and for-profit business ventures around the world with a mission to improve society and the environment. It would be naïve to say that the driving force in business is to benefit others. So what is driving entrepreneurs to Africa? An article recently featured in The New Yorker called “The Race to Solar-Power Africa” says it all. Continue reading “Energizing a Continent”


Salt Water to Water

Graphic from cnx.org

This isn’t my most favorite method of purifying water, but it works. People complain that this method uses too much energy to be efficient, but in places like California where there is never-ending drought but a continuous supply of salt water, DIY desalination might start to become more commonplace. To paraphrase the method from WikiHow, I rewrote the steps to making your own water from salt water:

  1. Pour your salt water into a bowl.
  2. Place a cup in the bowl.
  3. Thoroughly cover the bowl with plastic wrap.
  4. Place the setup in a sunny spot.

This method takes an estimated three to four hours to produce about a quarter of a liter of water.

Here’s a video of the DIY salt water purifier in action:

Homemade Solar Water Distiller



According to the World Health Organization, “Globally, there are nearly 1.7 billion cases of diarrhoeal disease every year”. Diarrhea is the number one cause of malnutrition in children under 5. It kills 760,000 children under five years old each year. Diarrheal illness can be caused by contaminated food or water, or lack of sanitation practices. Children come into contact with feces through many routes, like unwashed hands, open sewage, groundwater, or insects. The major route that SODIS closes off is contamination through water. SODIS stands for solar disinfection, and the type of disinfection referred to here is using Polyethelene Terephthalate bottles and UV radiation to kill off bacteria. PET bottles allow sun rays to reach the water without releasing chemicals from the bottle. Several bottles at a time are filled with contaminated water and placed on roofs or tables. After six hours water is safe to drink.  My only concerns are the cost (it appears as though the people who use SODIS were given a donation of PET bottles) and the quantity of clean water that is typically produced with this method. Nevertheless, this is a simple solution that can be easily implemented.

Here is more information: SODIS document.

The image of the SODIS bottle has changed a lot since 1991. Here is a more modern website: Solar Bottle.