Michael Pritchard: How To Make Filthy Water Drinkable


Too much of the world lacks access to clean drinking water. Engineer Michael Pritchard did something about it — inventing the portable Lifesaver filter, which can make the most revolting water drinkable in seconds. An amazing demo from TEDGlobal 2009.

With cutting-edge nanotechnology, Michael Pritchard’s Lifesaver water-purification bottle could revolutionize water-delivery systems in disaster-stricken areas around the globe.

During the twin tragedies of the Asian tsunami and Hurricane Katrina, Ipswich water-treatment expert Michael Pritchard winced helplessly at televised coverage of throngs of refugees waiting for days for a simple drink of clean water. Stricken by the chronic failure of aid agencies to surmount this basic challenge, Pritchard decided to do something about it.

Using a non-chemical nano-filtration hollow fibre membrane with 15 nanometre pores (it is designed to block viruses), the Lifesaver bottle can make the most revolting swamp water drinkable in seconds. Better still, a single long-lasting filter can clean 6,000 litres of water. Given the astronomical cost of shipping water to disaster areas, Pritchard’s Lifesaver bottle could turn traditional aid models on their heads.

Thanks to TED and Icon Lifesaver.

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Mike Tawse

Great to see a British invention, and inventor, making such a positive difference, with simple technology. The same idea is easily scalable, from systems to supply a village with clean, safe water, without expensive pipes, pumps or drilling, to single ‘sports bottles’. http://goo.gl/6UdFq1

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