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Harnessing the power of the sun to purify water

By Aurora Velez
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Harnessing the power of the sun to purify water
Copyright  euronews

Harnessing the power of the sun to purify water. In southern France, an innovative system called Helio is doing that. The self-sufficient small sphere can distil dirty water or seawater. It also emits zero CO2, making it completely sustainable.

Helio engineer Matteo Beaudet told Euronews how the system works.

"We're going to put the unsafe water on the tray here into the sphere. This sphere will be heated by the sun's rays and all the impurities that were in the water will be trapped on this tray within the sphere, while the pure water will trickle down the walls to this lower sphere and the drinking water can be recovered."

Clean drinking water

Around 2.6 million people die each year from water-related diseases, with children being the most vulnerable.

In a world where one in three people don’t have access to guaranteed drinking water, Helio's co-inventor Thierry Carlin says the system offers a solution.

"We all need water to live. A human being needs two litres a day to live. This sphere is sized to make water for five people - that's 10 litres per day," he said.

A total of 800,000 euros has so far been invested in the Helio project. Half of that came from the European Union Cohesion Policy, the other half from French firm Marine Tech.

"It's a super futuristic design"

Many industrial systems already produce drinking water using the sun. What distinguishes this technology, however, is its autonomous nature and the fact it's made from recycled materials.

It was that sustainability that attracted Enrique Encinas, CEO of Neuva Tierra Consulting.

He plans to market and distribute the Helio spheres in Spain and Latin America.

"It's a super futuristic design, it's very flexible and can be configured for farms, increasing daily water production to the amount you need. I think it weighs around 80 kilos - between 80 and 100 kilos; but it can be assembled in two hours and taken apart by two people quickly as well," Encinas said.

The price of each sphere is approximately 5,000 euros. The system is designed to guarantee the supply of drinking water during natural disasters, wars or in any situation where the water supply has been damaged

Already in use in Oman and Tahiti, Gilles Nolibe, CEO of Cesigma Signals and Systems, has obtained 20 Helio spheres. Five of which he is giving to a school in southern Madagascar, to provide water for around 100 people.

"We’ve decided to give away five of the 20 units, for a very simple reason: there’s an absolutely critical need for water in southern Madagascar. It’s crucial for drinking, for food and also for hygiene. I hope that we will be able to improve the lives of these people who are currently facing a severe famine."

Since 2010, the UN has recognised access to clean water and sanitation as a fundamental human right.