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RainCloud: Water Conserving Hand Sanitation Device

Conserving 95% of water resources, RainCloud is a passive hand washing device designed for use in areas without water infrastructure.

Photo of Morgan Barron
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EXPLAIN YOUR IDEA

2.7 billion of the world’s population have limited access to water. By 2025 it is projected 66% of the world’s population will face water shortages. Without water, sanitation decreases while diseases increase; two million people die annually from dysentery. By engineering an inexpensive water-conserving device, I am addressing one of the United Nations' Global Goals and starting a revolution in hygiene to decrease the prevalence of disease and unnecessary death. As a reaction to Katherine Boo’s narrative of life in slums, Behind the Beautiful Forevers, I designed, prototyped, and tested six generations of RainCloud to provide a universal sanitary system which does not require water infrastructure to be used effectively. Made simply from bar plastic and machined to be press fitted into any 2 liter bottle, serving as the refillable water source, RainCloud passively creates a seal upon the removal of pressure to stop water flow. This device could be used 1) in areas where handwashing is neglected because of lack of infrastructure or need to conserve water resources, 2) to provide hand washing devices for emergency kits, 3) in disaster zones with disrupted water infrastructure, or a myriad of other uses. Having uploaded the design drawings (at sustainableraincloud.blogspot.com), I invited national and worldwide organizations (United Nations, World Health Organization, European Union, Red Cross, Peace Corps) to make or contact me for at-cost devices for distribution.

WHO BENEFITS?

People living in areas with limited water access, like refugee camps or disaster zones, are less likely to wash their hands, preferring to drink their water resources instead. While hydration is necessary for sustaining life, bacteria spread by a lack of sanitation kills 2 million individuals annually. Diarrhea, the most dangerous disease in slums, is preventable. If RainCloud was implemented as an universal sanitary system, then millions of lives could be saved worldwide every year.

HOW DOES YOUR IDEA TAKE INTO ACCOUNT THE CONTEXT OF URBAN SLUMS AND CLIMATE CHANGE?

Handwashing with unclean water is uneffective. By partnering with the myriad of nonprofit and supranational organizations, who provide freshwater wells or water purifying systems to areas without clean water access, RainCloud could improve living standards worldwide. Slum residents should be included in implementation of RainCloud, ensuring this low-tech solution truly fits their needs, and can be adapted into their daily lives, allowing them to move beyond surviving towards thriving. A crucial, yet challenging, component of the engineering process is establishing a design criteria: requiring the understanding a need, considering best practice design principles, and what must be minimally fulfilled for product success. After reading about the World Health Organization (WHO) attempt to create water infrastructure in slums, which failed due to 1) the expense of building and maintaining water amenities and 2) to eviction of slum dwellers by property owners, I decided I needed to include transportable and inexpensive in my design criteria to avoid the same issues WHO had experienced. To be effective in the slum environment, I also I wanted RainCloud to be reusable and conserve water without leaking. Finally, after six generations of RainCloud, my design criteria was met: conserving 95% of water compared to traditional faucets, using a transportable 2 liter bottle as the water source, fabricated inexpensively from bar plastic and machined simply to decrease production cost, and being able to be used constantly and refilled without compromising the integrity of the design.

IN-COUNTRY EXPERIENCE

  • Not yet

EXPERTISE

  • I’ve worked in a sector related to my idea for less than one year

GEOGRAPHIC FOCUS

  • Yes

TELL US A BIT ABOUT YOURSELF

I am a girl scout, a high school senior, and a global citizen. As I graduate, I want to be prepared to pursue a higher education to design a more sustainable future by networking with other professionals and individuals who are innovating solutions with limited means to thrive in slums worldwide.

6 comments

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Photo of Napas Kitirattragan
Team

Hi Morgan. I like the Idea! and it seems practical. Theres no doubt that rain water itself is clean , but other chemicals that are dissolved in the water as the rain falls down to earth can make rain become acidic. Especially, in the urban area where theres more pollution and gas emission. Maybe there could be a way to neutralise the PH of water -to make it more sanitise?

Photo of Shane Zhao
Team

Great feedback Napas! Morgan it'll be interesting to think about how the RainCloud can have built in filters to purify the water - especially in areas where the water supply might be contaminated. You'll be interested in checking out the cheaper filters in portable devices like the LifeSack: http://waterislife.com/clean-water/the-straw or LifeStraw: http://waterislife.com/clean-water/the-straw

Also, are you currently working with any implementing partners to test out the Raincloud with communities on the ground? Thanks for the share and looking forward to hearing more!

Photo of Morgan Barron
Team

Collection of rain water is a great idea for clean water source! I know if water is left in the sun (UV rays) long enough bacteria is killed, however I am not sure what effect (if any) it has on chemical neutralization.

Photo of Morgan Barron
Team

If a filter was used with RainCloud, it would have to be flexible to be press fitted into the 2 liter bottle. Thank you for the site recommendations, I will check them out.

I orginally planned to have RainCloud to be field tested over the summer in Bangalore, however, the partnership fell through. I am currently working with Power2Become to have it tested and implemented in Burkina Faso this December.

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