A clever device can bring clean water to millions around the world

Safe drinking water can be made from salt and a car battery.

While many nations are lucky to have safe drinking water, there are hundreds of millions of people across the globe who do not enjoy this same luxury, which is why the invention of a device called the SE200 Community Chlorine Maker could change the lives of millions, by giving them the power to produce clean water.

The device produces chlorine to make water safe.

The SE200 Community Chlorine Maker was developed by international non-profit organization PATH and Mountain Safety Research (MSR). It uses technology the military developed to provide water purification in remote regions.

The device is simple to use and creates chlorine in a matter of minutes. More specifically, the SE200 is comprised of a small plastic canister that is attached to a battery. The person using the device adds the specified amounts of water and salt to the machine and pushes a button to activate the process.

Within as little as five minutes, the electricity from the battery causes the salt to break up into sodium and chlorine, and eventually produces sodium hypochlorite; a chemical that can purify contaminated water. According to NPR, Jesse Schubert of PATH says the process is a chemical reaction called electrolysis.

Every batch of chlorine made by the SE200 can make 200 liters of clean water.

There are many reasons why this chlorine-producing device is so remarkable. The first is that it gives rural villages and slums that would not otherwise have access to chlorine – which is hard to store because it easily breaks down – the chance to practically create their own to purify water. Chlorine is an effective bacteria killer and lowers the risk of waterborne diseases like typhoid, diarrheal, and cholera, which are responsible for illness and death, especially in children.

Another reason it is remarkable is the machine is easier to use than other water purifying devices. It’s so simple, in fact, that even school children can make the chlorine needed to purify water.

Finally, the SE200 is relatively inexpensive. According to MSR, each device costs around $200, but can provide enough clean water for 200 people for approximately five years. NPR reported that the device became commercially available in May, but has been field-tested by MSR and PATH for the past seven years in over 10 countries, including India, Kenya, Haiti, and Ghana.

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