A Step Forward in Sustainable Clean Water Development

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Bourne Energy develops a river powered water purification system that is both portable and affordable for small rural villages as well as other applications.

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The water you drink today has likely been around in one form or another since hundreds of millions of years ago. While the amount of freshwater on the planet has remained fairly constant over time—continually recycled through the atmosphere and back into our cups—demand for it has exploded. A rapidly expanding population and increasing demand by industry has created drinking water shortages in many parts of the world. And despite global efforts, more than one billion people are likely at risk for lack of clean water (WHO). Bourne Energy has developed a water innovation to help quench the world’s growing thirst.

Polluted water is becoming more common around the world in rivers, lakes and groundwater. While industry returns most of the water it uses to rivers and lakes, it is often contaminated. And water drained off from irrigation usually contains fertilizers and pesticides that pollute groundwater sources and rivers. Add to that an aging water system that inhibits a viable response to this growing problem. But a solution must be found. People must have access to safe water. Infectious waterborne diseases such as diarrhea, typhoid, and cholera are responsible for 80 percent of illnesses and deaths in the developing world.

An ongoing global effort to provide more drinking water includes the World Health Organization and Unicef as well as large companies like P&G, Coca-Cola and Anhauser-Busch. But solutions will not be simple. New water utilities are being planned, but the effort is being slowed by the high cost of construction and the energy required. Some companies are pursuing local, low-tech solutions which center around the use of solar and wind power to distill water or reverse osmosis systems to purify local water sources.

Bourne Energy has taken another approach by combining its hydrokinetic power system with reverse osmosis technology. This fully self-contained unit is placed in many of the thousands of miles of rivers stretching across the globe to harness the hydrokinetic power in the river to power the RO system. Bourne’s system requires minimal onsite construction, making it faster and cheaper to implement. The technology can also be scaled to operate in small, medium and large rivers. Further advantages include reduced need for establishing long distance water distribution networks, reduced water loss due to pipe leakage, as well as lower energy consumption. The technology can bring clean drinking water to rural areas that either have no power source or do not have the funds for clean water infrastructure or are too remote to bring water equipment into the site.

The Bourne water making system can play a key role in our water future as small to medium scale decentralized water systems gradually replace or supplement conventional large systems. The in-river power array can be spread out down the river creating small, sustainable steady output water utilities networks. Bourne’s system offers a truly sustainable access to safe drinking water.

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C S Catlin
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