The lack of safe drinking water is a major problem in developing countries. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), water borne diseases are the leading cause of death in children under 5. Some estimates attribute 80 percent of all diseases and 33 percent of all deaths in the developing world to unsafe drinking water.
The Tata Swach (Hindi for “clean”) is setting out to provide clean drinking water to the millions of people worldwide who don’t have it. In India, Tata Swach’s first focus, only about 6 percent of urban Indians and less than 1 percent of rural Indians use a water purifier. Accessible technology, ease of use and affordability are just some of the issues the design needed to tackle.
The heart of the Tata Swach Nanotech Water Purifier is the Tata Swach Bulb, which purifies water without using electricity, a resource rarely available in rural areas. The Bulb can fit into existing storage vessels or ceramic pots that are widely used in rural India. It uses naturally available paddy husk ash as its water purification medium. The silica in the ash attracts organisms, which are then killed by the nano-silver in the admixture. Water can be gathered from any source, including wells, streams and lakes.
Another unique feature is the Tata Swach Fuse. The purification power gets depleted after about 3,000 liters. To alert users when the Bulb is exhausted, the Fuse triggers a shut-off mechanism, which blocks the water flow and protects users from drinking impure water. The Fuse also indicates the remaining life of the Bulb, giving users enough warning to buy a new one. Replacing the Bulb is as simple as replacing a light bulb.
The company’s marketing campaign is aimed at converting non-users to users of water purifiers centered on spreading awareness about the need to purify drinking water. Tata Swach costs about $0.02 per day for a family of five.
Credit: Satish Gokhale and the design team at Design Directions Pvt Ltd; Amrita Dey at Tata Chemicals Ltd and Dilshad Ahmed at Tata Consultancy Services for Tata Chemicals Ltd.