“When it rains, the dirt roads here become impossible. We can be left with no clean water for many days,” explained Yucatan resident Rosa. “Water from the well is bad, and many of us get sick from drinking it. But we have no choice.”
The lack of a dependable water supply forces her family to drink from a ground well. The water is brackish, dirty and harbors waterborne diseases.
An engineering student at the state capital’s university, Jonathan Gual, saw the same problems during his work in these remote communities. His solution was a water purifier that harnesses the region’s intense sunlight.
“Water quality is equal to quality of life, and the life these people lead is entirely alien to existence in urban areas,” Gual said. “Seeing that such basic problems remain an issue in parts of my state made me very motivated to help.”
His water purifier works by exploiting what Yucatan’s 4.5 kilowatt-hours of daily sunlight. That’s enough to power 75 regular lightbulbs. This sunlight evaporates and condenses water on a slanted glass roof, which then runs off, purified, into a storage tank.
Despite the abundant rainfall in the Yucatan, drinking water is not always available from the main supply. Bottled water is too remote and expensive for these rural communities. A water purifier that requires no electricity would greatly improve the region’s quality of life.
The machine can produce six liters of purified water a day, enough for a family of three. Gual’s purifier remains in its prototype stage, but he hopes it will soon see full-scale production.
“We are working on a larger model, which will be able to produce double or triple the amount of clean water that it is currently capable of, and therefore be able to meet the requirements of these families,” Gual explained.