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WaterPod is a sustainable desalination pod that turns seawater into drinkable water naturally.

  • Product showcase in the sea nomads community

  • Users interaction with product

  • Section view on how it works

  • Exploded view with component list

  • Compilation of idea development on sketches and concept experiments

What it does

WaterPod is a sustainable desalination pod that works on solar distillation to convert seawater into drinkable water. By utilizing natural resources, WaterPod is designed to be placed on the sea for the sea nomads to have access on drinking water easily.

Your inspiration

According to UNICEF and WHO, 1 in 3 people globally still do not have access to safe drinking water including the sea nomads. They usually need to travel far just to purchase sufficient drinking water from time to time. However, 97% of the earth's water is found in the oceans that makes desalination as a highly potential method to retrieve drinkable water. But today, desalination is an expensive yet environmental costly process that has done by the desalination plants. Thus, WaterPod emphasizes on sustainability in terms of materials usage and a low-cost yet environmental-friendly desalination method to generate drinkable water for them.

How it works

WaterPod works on a self-cleaning solar desalination system. It starts with a wick structure that absorb seawater from underneath and transport to the black fabric that placed on top of the aluminium plate. The wick structure has demonstrated an excellent salt rejection behaviour by dissolving and rejecting the salt contaminant from seawater. As the sunlight passes through tranparent cover, this is where the process of evaporation and condensation take place. The aluminium plate is designed in semi-spherical to increase the surface area of water spreading across black fabric and causes the seawater to evaporate faster while leaving the contaminant behind. With cooling ambient air around the cover, water vapours are then easily formed into droplets through the process of condensation. Again, following the semi-spherical form, the condensation will then flow efficiently into the storage below and able to retrieve through a water pump system.

Design process

Starting with mind-mapping, we have been exposed to the community of sea nomads in the east coast of Sandakan in Malaysia. We have identified the main issue is they do not have access to safe drinking water. By understanding their lifestyle, they are also living in a very polluted sea that full of plastic waste. Therefore, we had investigated into creating an alternative sustainable method which the plastic waste can be recycled into a water desalination pod to reduce the plastic pollution around the community. In addition, we proposed to make use of the advantageous of natural resources like renewable energy through brainstorming and research were done on studying different methods of water desalination process and the sustainable materials that can incorporate with the design. Through the development, several concept experiments have done. While the final design is strongly inspired by the nature such as the self-cleaning salt rejection wick structure that derived from a mangrove tree to avoid the concentrated brine waste into disturbing the ecosystem of marine life and the semi-spherical aluminium plate that derived from mushroom texture is to increase the surface area for faster evaporation.

How it is different

As an alternative to current bigger desalination plant, WaterPod is designed to be simple and only uses basic science to carry out the desalination process. Furthermore, WaterPod is different where it comes with a modular concept that able to connect multiple pods to form different interesting shapes of platform on the sea as well to enhance the buoyancy stability without flipping over. As the sustainable identity to tackle plastic pollution, WaterPod is also proposed using recycled plastic materials that collected from the oceans as the body mold. Formed by rotational molding, the inner is then filled with expanded polyurethane foam that acts as the thermal insulation and flotation enhancement while the bottom dome is filled with cement to increase the weight stability. Therefore, WaterPod brings awareness of plastic pollution and strongly encourages the community to collect the ocean plastic waste to turns into something useful, a water desalination pod.

Future plans

Next step is to verify the effectiveness of WaterPod in terms of practicality and manufacturing issues. To push WaterPod further, we hope to obtain funding from any interested parties to allocate into further research and development. The proposed materials has led us to consider about the manufacturing constrains and effects of buoyancy stability. Besides that, solar desalination also requires collaboration with manufacturers in creating a working prototype to test out the evaporation rate and the water capacity per day under a favourable condition on the sea. By then, WaterPod is ready to kickstart after the upcoming iteration trials.


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