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Lack of access to clean water for drinking and washing is a life-threatening issue faced by millions of people in impoverished nations every day. Without clean water, infectious diseases spread like wildfire, and this is compounded by the limited availability of doctors and medicine in these places. Obviously, this is also a major consideration for those of us who wish to prepare for natural disasters and other domestic emergency situations. If you can find a way to efficiently produce clean water that’s free of pathogens, you’ll have more time and energy to focus on other critical tasks, such as staying warm and putting food on the table.
A Boston-based company known as OffGridBox — no relation to our company or magazine — has developed a compact all-in-one system that can gather electricity from solar panels and use it to purify water for up to 1,500 people. All the components are housed in a durable 6’x6’x6′ metal shipping container, which can be delivered to the necessary location by truck, train, boat, or even airlifted in on a helicopter. The box is then unloaded and assembled on-site.
The OffGridBox starts with a large solar panel array set up on top of the container, which generates up to up to 16 kWh of power per day without any connection to the power grid. An inverter turns this DC into usable AC, which can be stored in the built-in battery pack or used to power other appliances (or even a small building). This electricity is also used to filter and purify up to 24,000 liters of water per day, and pump it to wherever it needs to go.
You might be wondering where the water comes from, and that’s a good question. The OffGridBox includes an integrated rainwater capture system, which feeds an onboard polyethylene storage tank, which in turn feeds the purifier. Untreated water can also be pumped into the unit from a well, river, or other external reservoir. There’s even an optional upgrade planned that will equip the unit with a desalinator, so you could turn saltwater from the ocean into pure drinkable fresh water on demand.
A basic model OffGridBox is said to produce enough electricity every day to support more than 300 families with basic electrical needs (2 lights and 2 smartphones each). At the same time, it can deliver a daily supply of up to 27 liters of clean water to each of these families. If you’re not looking to support a whole village, you could use the unit to power a single home with more sophisticated appliances such as air conditioning, a refrigerator, and a washing machine.
Here’s a summary of the standard OffGridBox’s specifications: