menu

Water Filtration System Uses Houseplants To Extract Poison Naturally

Water Filtration System Uses Houseplants To Extract Poison Naturally
Design

Ferns could be the key to a sorely needed low-cost, electricity-free purification system for millions.

Sara Boboltz
  • 24 october 2013

Over 150 million people globally are exposed to arsenic contamination on a daily basis. Figures are ballpark — in Bangladesh, for example, where 35 to 88 million people are affected by the poison, data is hard to come by since autopsies aren’t performed. But no one should mess around with arsenic. Just one drop can leave a swimming pool’s worth of water unsafe for human consumption, with prolonged or increased exposure leading to cancer and death.

Stephen Goodwin Honan, 24-year-old U.S. Navy officer and Oxford University doctoral student, has proposed a novel solution he calls Clean Water. It was voted ‘Idea That Will Change The World’ at London’s Global Design Forum.

Many before him have come up with other water systems, but due to its low cost and simplicity, Honan’s is most feasible. He proposes using locally sourced ferns to filter arsenic. Contaminated water is poured over the plants, whose roots absorb the toxin and produce clean water. After a while, the ferns become saturated with poison and must be retired, but their cache can be harvested in a chemical process and, since arsenic is used to make semiconductors and mobile phones, sold at a profit to companies that need it.

water-07-660x473

For just $10 worth of starter plants — which can be grown in any watertight container — a typical user can harvest $85 worth of arsenic in a year. The only requirement for success is a green thumb. Honan’s system was tested in Bangladesh with overwhelmingly positive results, he explained:

The paradigm shift is that people will be able to earn money from producing their own clean water as opposed to paying to have clean water. That’s a really big stickiness factor for the design itself.

While Clean Water doesn’t have set plans to move forward with the filter system, Honan said that he is working on developing partnerships so that all parts of the filters can be upcycled — arsenic for computer devices, plant biomass for fertilizer, and plastic containers for future filter systems.

Global Design Forum

Photos via Wired.

Design
Trending

PSFK's Workplace Vision: How The Nurturing Of Seeds Will Come To Define The Onboarding Process

Brand Development
Media & Publishing Yesterday

CNN Launched An Entire Drone Division Of Their News Network

CNN AIR incorporates aerial footage into the corporation's ongoing news coverage

Advertising Yesterday

Uber’s Breathalyzer Cards Let You Know If You Are Sober Enough To Drive

A new campaign from the ride-sharing service raises awareness about the importance of a safe trip home

Trending

Get PSFK's Latest Report: Future of Retail: Technology Primer

See All
Design Yesterday

Milk Proteins Could Be The Packaging Material Of The Future

A newly discovered casein-based alternative is biodegradable, sustainable and even edible

Technology Yesterday

Intel’s New System Will Help Technology See And Understand The World

Joule is a tiny board for developers designed to bring powerful computer vision to cheap and easy-to-make prototypes

PURPLELIST EXPERTS

Benjamin Dyett

Digital Solutions, Tech, Systems

Design Yesterday

This LA Hotel Is Designed Specifically For Cocktail Drinkers

The Walker Inn is a new Los Angeles "Bed and Beverage" experience that offers guests an intimate setting for their night cap

Education Yesterday

Bringing Virtual Reality And Telepresence Robotics To E-Learning

This Learning Management System is embracing new technologies to reallocate teaching resources to where they should be going

Advertising Yesterday

Interactive Art Exhibition For Dogs Provides Endless Fun

Installations created by artist Dominic Wilcox are based on activities loved by canines, such as fetching tennis balls and splashing in water

PSFK LABS REPORT

Future Of Work
Cultivating The Next Generation Of Leaders
NEW

PSFK Op-Ed august 24, 2016

Why Building Better Offices Is The Key To Employee Engagement

Interaction Designer and Audio-visual Technologist at ESI Design illustrates the value in creating environments filled with surprise and delight

PSFK Labs august 24, 2016

PSFK’s Workplace Vision: The Annual Review Becomes An Everyday, Collaborative Activity

Our Future of Work vision is a web-based platform through which teams can collaborate on and monitor performance reviews across all channels, ensuring a happier workplace

Beauty Yesterday

Design Your Own Custom Watch Faces

Customize your wrist device with Garmin's new app that lets you display personalized images or patterns

Syndicated Yesterday

How The Olympics Taught Us Lessons In Cloud Analytics

Dan Vesset, group VP for analytics and information management at IDC, tells how cloud-based business analytics support decision-making

Beauty Yesterday

Retail Expert: What Sustainability Means To The Millennial Generation

Jo Godden, Founder of RubyMoon, discusses how brands can limit their environmental impact worldwide

Arts & Culture Yesterday

Artist Shuts Down Sexist Comments By Turning Them Into Images

Rora Blue explores social stigma in a photo series titled 'Handle With Care'

Arts & Culture Yesterday

Japanese Face Wash Creates A Perfect Rose Every Time

Kanebo's latest addition to the Evita line includes an application that dispenses cleanser in the shape of a flower

PSFK LABS REPORT

Innovation Debrief: Boston
Business Concepts Born In 'The Hub'
AVAILABLE NOW

Mobile Yesterday

Twitter Bot Will Warn You If You Are A Troll

An online tool developed out of Intel's Hack Harassment movement helps filter out or notify cyber bullies

Retail Yesterday

Passengers Can Now Earn Airline Miles For Sharing Their Location Data

The Frequent Flyer app measures background data and gives travelers points that can be exchanged for tickets with participating airlines

Advertising Yesterday

The NBA Is Releasing Two Original Shows To Stream On Twitter

The sports league announced a deal that demonstrates an interesting expansion of its content strategy

No search results found.