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WaterPod is made to tread the surface of the water for sea nomads to have access to drinking water easily

A group of students from the Asia Pacific Institute of Information Technology have created a sustainable desalination pod that runs on solar power and converts seawater into drinkable water. The device, which is named WaterPod, is made to tread the surface of the water to make drinking water accessible to sea nomads. WaterPod is Malaysia’s national winner of the James Dyson Award 2021.

Sea nomads is the name used for several ethnic groups in the Philippines, Sabah, eastern Malaysia, Brunei and Indonesia. These individuals maintain a nomadic, sea-based culture. The team of students who design WaterPod – Bennie Beh Hue May, Yap Chun Yoon, Loo Xin Yang – had become acquainted with the community of sea nomads on the east coast of Sandakan in Malaysia.

“We have identified the main issue is they do not have access to safe drinking water. By understanding their lifestyle, they are also living in a very polluted sea that is full of plastic waste. Therefore, we had investigated creating an alternative sustainable method whereby the plastic waste can be recycled into a water desalination pod to reduce the plastic pollution around the community,” they told James Dyson.

The desalination device is composed of a wick structure that absorbs seawater. Black fabric is placed on top of an aluminium plate and a transparent cover through which sunlight can pass. This is where the process of evaporation and condensation takes place. As the water spreads across the black fabric it evaporates leaving the contaminant behind. As the water condenses again it is stored in the device and can be retrieved through a water pump system. The device is self-cleaning and made from recycled plastic materials collected from the oceans.

The next step for the team is to verify the efficacy of WaterPod in terms of practicality and manufacturing. The students hope to obtain funding from investors to facilitate further research and development.

Written By: Katrina Lane

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