We are aware of the challenges in the commercial viability of products and services that are typically aimed at the “bottom of the pyramid” (BoP) consumer. The challenges can be as basic as ‘expensive price’ and ‘difficult to reach the last mile,’ to not understanding the technology or seeing its value enhancement. The most important lesson we have learned in delivering frugal innovations in BoP markets is how to maximize the value of the product while reducing the costs of production.
Therefore, our end product to this BoP consumer will be the world’s (and India’s) cheapest water filtration apparatus using silver-embedded paper that eliminates 99.9% of bacteria, viruses and protozoa.
Technology: The pAge Drinking Paper, a novel silver nanoparticle impregnated (AgNP) antimicrobial water filter paper, is a revolutionary approach to point-of-use water purification affordable for millions of people living on less than $2/day. At a target price point of 20-25 cents per sheet, the AgNP paper is affordable for BoP consumers, highly portable, and requires no energy or external inputs.
Most people without access to improved drinking water rely on household water treatment by boiling, adding chlorine, or using ceramic water filters. Boiling requires a reliable fuel source, which may not be available. Chlorine has off-tastes and causes the formation of carcinogenic, environmentally-hazardous, halogenated disinfection byproducts. Ceramic water filters have limited success due to 1) prohibitive cost; 2) poor distribution to rural consumers; and 3) a design prone to fracturing.
The nanoparticle-coated pAge papers release silver ions that kill bacteria and viruses, while the (smaller) pore size of the paper physically prevents (larger) chemically-resistant protozoa from passing through the paper into the effluent water. The papers are safe, portable and long lasting. The production cost is low, and we aspire to produce filters for 1-10 cents per paper. The result is safe drinking water that is affordable to the poorest of the poor.
Device: Our human-centered design approach will ensure that the filtration apparatus is frugal, tough enough for the far-off terrains of India’s rural and small town sectors, and suitable for hot and humid conditions. We would approach the ‘make & launch’ of this apparatus with certain principles which will boost the local economy through materials procurement within the region, one that enables local manufacturing of the apparatus and therefore create employment opportunities. Our value proposition: a sustainable business model built around the world’s cheapest water filtration apparatus which kills 99.9% of the microbes in water.