Water and Electricity for All

Posted on February 23, 2006  Comments (14)

Segway Creator Unveils His Next Act

Water and Electricity may not seem like something to wish for if you are reading this post. However for over 1 billion people that do without both it is.

Dean Kamen, the engineer who invented the Segway, is puzzling over a new equation these days. An estimated 1.1 billion people in the world don’t have access to clean drinking water, and an estimated 1.6 billion don’t have electricity. Those figures add up to a big problem for the world and an equally big opportunity for entrepreneurs.

To solve the problem, he’s invented two devices, each about the size of a washing machine that can provide much-needed power and clean water in rural villages.

“Eighty percent of all the diseases you could name would be wiped out if you just gave people clean water,” says Kamen. “The water purifier makes 1,000 liters of clean water a day, and we don’t care what goes into it. And the power generator makes a kilowatt off of anything that burns.”

Kamen’s goal is to produce machines that cost $1,000 to $2,000 each. That’s a far cry from the $100,000 that each hand-machined prototype cost to build.

Quadir is going to try and see if the machines can be produced economically by a factory in Bangladesh. If the numbers work out, not only does he think that distributing them in a decentralized fashion will be good business — he also thinks it will be good public policy. Instead of putting up a 500-megawatt power plant in a developing country, he argues, it would be much better to place 500,000 one-kilowatt power plants in villages all over the place, because then you would create 500,000 entrepreneurs.

More products from his company, Deka Research & Development Corp, including: Hydroflex™ Irrigation Pump, IBOT™ Mobility System and Intravascular Stent.

Dean Kamen understands what engineering can do. “Today, almost 200 engineers, technicians, and machinists work in our electronics and software engineering labs, machine shop, and on CAD stations.”

DEKA’s mission, first and foremost, is to foster innovation. It is a company where the questioning of conventional thinking is encouraged and practiced by everyone—engineers and non-engineers alike—because open minds are more likely to arrive at workable solutions. This has been our formula for success since we began, and it will continue to drive our success in the future.

Dean Kamen founded For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology (FIRST)

14 Responses to “Water and Electricity for All”

  1. Curious Cat Science and Engineering Blog » Blog Archive » Smokeless Stove Uses 80% Less Fuel
    March 16th, 2006 @ 8:42 am

    [...] Additionally the opportunities to save lives and improve health in the world often do not require cutting edge science. It is often a matter of engineering effective solutions for hundreds of millions and billions of people living without what those in the wealthy take for granted (Water and Electricity for All – Solar Powered Hearing Aid – Appropriate Technology).   [link] [...]

  2. Curious Cat Science and Engineering Blog » Blog Archive » Cheap Drinking Water From Seawater
    April 1st, 2006 @ 6:09 pm

    [...] Water and Electricity for All [...]

  3. Curious Cat Science and Engineering Blog » R&D Magazine’s 2006 Innovator of the Year
    August 21st, 2006 @ 9:56 pm

    [...] Prevoius post on Kamen’s work with electricity and drinking water for all. Kamen also founded FIRST (see previous post: 2006 FIRST Robotics Competition Regional Events). He cautions that there are few incentives to encourage students to become scientists or engineers. There needs to be a consistent message from the government, the schools, and industry, that scientists and engineers will be the 21st century’s superstars, according to Kamen. “I’m concerned that the U.S. feels it has a birthright where innovation happens,” he says. The global picture appears to indicate otherwise, as Asian countries now graduate more than 12 times as many scientists and engineers every year as does the U.S. “The science and engineering community needs to get to the kids to encourage them to look at science and engineering careers,” he adds. [...]

  4. CuriousCat: Clean Water Filter
    September 11th, 2006 @ 11:31 pm

    [...] “Charities estimate that more than a billion people do not have access to safe drinking water. In some parts of Africa, water-borne diseases such as cholera, dysentery and viral diarrhoea claim the lives of one in four children.” [...]

  5. CuriousCat: What Kids can Learn
    October 2nd, 2006 @ 1:29 pm

    [...] “This is a fascinating interview discussing what children can learn if given a computer and little, if any, instruction. Very Cool. Links on the progress since this interview are at the end of the post.” [...]

  6. CuriousCat: Micro-Wind Turbines for Home Use
    April 2nd, 2007 @ 5:38 pm

    Those solutions can make a huge difference in people’s lives (which can be more important than the economic gains). Though I believe solutions that provide significant economic gains are best since they will sustain the expansion of adoption of the technology…

  7. Curious Cat Science and Engineering Blog » Microfinancing Entrepreneurs
    July 2nd, 2007 @ 6:50 pm

    I have just placed $350 in loans to 5 business entrepreneurs (in Kenya, Mexico, Cameroon and Azerbaijan) – and a made a $50 donation to Kiva. Kiva provides loans through partners (operating in the countries) to the entrepreneurs…

  8. Engineering &… » The PlayPump System
    September 2nd, 2008 @ 4:47 pm

    “The PlayPump makes use of the energy kids at play provide to propel water up from under ground into a water storage system that provides the children’s community access to clean water…”

  9. Anonymous
    October 28th, 2008 @ 6:28 pm

    These remind me of the project that google currently has about devices that can better the world. For once, if such a product can be developed economically as the essay says (I believe in Bangladesh) then it is an opportunity for everyone.

  10. Curious Cat Science and Engineering Blog » High School Inventor Teams @ MIT
    December 11th, 2008 @ 8:41 am

    The webcast above shows a high school team presenting a project they completed to create a solution to provide clean water. This stuff is great. I love appropriate technology…

  11. Curious Cat Management Improvement Blog » Southwest Not Delta or United
    June 14th, 2010 @ 12:22 pm

    [...] Then you have the typical horrible treatment the other airlines practice. Like this example where Delta damages this guys bike and refuses to accept responsibility. That is until they suffered a huge amount of additional ill will over such horrible treatment of James Lawrence, who is participating in 20 half iron mans to raise money to help provide systems to provide water for those in Africa in need of it. [...]

  12. Joe
    June 24th, 2011 @ 10:32 am

    Look like this project really can chang the world for many people. Where can I make donation?

  13. 20th Annual US First Robotics Competition » Curious Cat Science and Engineering Blog
    January 8th, 2012 @ 9:20 pm

    [...] cameos by Steven Tyler and Bono This is an effort being pushed by will.i.am (Black Eyed Peas) and Dean Kamen (US First Founder) to promote science and engineering. Since most politicians don’t seem [...]

  14. Water Wheel » Curious Cat Science and Engineering Blog
    May 24th, 2014 @ 1:37 pm

    […] As I have posted before I really love appropriate technology solutions that make a difference in people’s lives. And those that help those that have the largest challenges (the very poor where even water and electricity are challenges). […]

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