Water treatment made easy: new device needs just water, salt, and electricity

May 19, 2015 by Tom Furtwangler

This simple device makes enough chlorine in five minutes to treat up to 200 liters of water.

Woman gathers water at a lakeside, stands next to a large number of jerrycans.

More than 700 million people worldwide don’t have access to good-quality sources of drinking water. Photo: PATH/Tom Furtwangler.

Worldwide more than 700 million people lack access to good-quality sources of drinking water. This health inequity has deadly consequences: safe water is critical for preventing diarrheal disease, one of the leading killers of children in developing countries.

For people in many parts of the world, a typical day includes collecting water in containers and carrying it home for cooking, washing, and drinking. Fetching water may take over an hour, and too often the water contains pathogens that cause disease.

Responding to this challenge, MSR (Mountain Safety Research Global Health) and PATH have spent several years developing a small, easy-to-use chlorine maker appropriate for resource-limited settings. It’s called the MSR SE200™ Community Chlorine Maker.

The device, which is being launched today, is manufactured in Seattle. It requires just water, salt, and electricity from an outlet or a vehicle battery. In a few minutes it produces enough chlorine to treat up to 200 liters (55 gallons) of water.

SE200 kit on a hillside. Photo: PATH.

The SE200 Community Chlorine Maker is a portable device that uses salt, water, and electricity to rapidly produce enough chlorine to treat 200 liters of water. Photo: PATH.

For entrepreneurs like Nairobi’s Patrick Mailu, a PATH pilot project to test and refine the device created an opportunity to build a small business selling treated water. He’s earning a living while improving the health of his community.

“I am proud of this business,” Patrick says, “because it supports my family, and also I am able to provide affordable, safe drinking water.”

Man in apron pours chlorine from the SE 200 into a small container.

Patrick Mailu is an entrepreneur in Nairobi, Kenya, whose kiosk sells treated water that he makes using the SE200 Community Chlorine Maker.

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