Slingshot (water vapor distillation system)
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Slingshot is a water purification device created by Dean Kamen, inventor of the Segway PT. Powered by a stirling engine running on a combustible fuel source, it claims to be able to produce clean water from almost any source.
Kamen came to develop the device on the basis of statistics that showed lack of access to clean water as a key public health issue. Statistics from the World Health Organization show that there are 900 million people worldwide without a readily available supply of drinking water and that some 3.5 million people die annually because of diseases resulting from the consumption of unsanitary water. Despite the fact that over two-thirds of the Earth's surface is covered with water, only 1% of it is potable.
Kamen sought to develop a technology that would transform the 97% of water that is undrinkable into water that can be used and consumed on the spot, readily and inexpensively. The device takes contaminated water and runs it through a vapor compression distiller that produces clean water, producing 250 gallons daily (~946 litres), enough for 100 people. The test devices have been used with "anything that looks wet", including polluted river water, saline ocean water and raw sewage. In a demonstration at a technology conference in October 2004, Kamen ran his own urine through the machine and drank the clean water that came out.
By the end of 2000, a team of 200 at DEKA had produced 30 units, each the size of a compact refrigerator. A pair of Slingshot devices ran successfully for a month in a village in Honduras during the summer of 2006. While the initial devices cost hundreds of thousands of dollars, Kamen hopes that increased economies of scale will allow production machines to be made available for $2,000 each.
The Slingshot process operates by means of vapor compression distillation, requires no filters, and can operate using cow dung as fuel. In addition to producing drinkable water, the Slingshot also generates enough electricity to light 70 energy-efficient light bulbs.
Kamen hopes to seed thousands of the units with local village entrepreneurs, in much the same way independent cell phone businesses have thrived and gradually changed the face of many impoverished areas around the globe. Future target price for the device is in the $1,000 to $2,000 range. 
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1. ^ Ulanoff, Lance. "Dean Kamen Honored by Popular Mechanics", PC Magazine, October 9, 2009. Accessed October 20, 2009.
2. ^ Malnson, Donald. "Dean Kamen aims to clean water, generate electricity with Slingshot machine", Engadget, April 23, 2008. Accessed October 20, 2009.
3. ^ a b c Bergeron, Ryan. "Segway inventor takes aim at thirst with Slingshot", CNN, September 11, 2009. Accessed October 18, 2009.
4. ^ a b Pearson, Ryan. "Segway inventor drinks his own pee (really): Dean Kamen uses drama to test water-filter system.", Orange County Register, December 15, 2005. Accessed October 18, 2009.
5. ^ Dean Kamen Unveils Slingshot, The Ultimate Water Regenerator, Impact Lab, April 22, 2008.
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- US Patent Application 2004/0159536
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- Thursday Mar 20 2008 Interview - Dean Kamen Episode: #04039
- To Build a Better World
- Segway inventor takes aim at thirst with Slingshot