This post originally appeared on Gizmodo UK, which is gobbling up the news in a different timezone.
We’ve all seen plenty of tech and gadget innovations appear on crowdfunding sites only for them to go absolutely nowhere. Reasons why these things fall by the wayside are many and varied, but common issues are a lack of sufficient investment, production complexities, the inability to scale up for mass market and so on. More often than not though, many inventions are just crap.
Quench Sea is good though, even if it’s only currently available on high-profile donation site Indiegogo. Could the curse of crowdfunding affect its chances of being taken seriously? Let’s hope not, because if it works as it’s supposed to Quench Sea has the capacity to be not just good but amazing.
What does it do? Well, it turns water into, er, water – but with a big difference. You can’t drink the water that goes in, but you can glug back the H2O that comes out. Yep, it’s effectively a portable desalination device.
The handheld gadget looks like something you’d see in one of those JML adverts on the TV. It’s small, cheap and predominantly plastic. The magic, however, happens on the inside as the Quench Sea turns yucky seawater into jungle fresh aqua.
With more than half the world’s population faced with living in water-stressed regions by 2050 it seems the handheld gadget is certainly much-needed. But can a manual handle-powered gizmo that’ll fit into a small bag do enough for the desperately dehydrated of the world?
On face value the little triangular blue and black box of tricks, which weighs less than a bag of sugar, may well offer a major solution, even though part of the sales pitch seems to be pushing it to Bear Grylls types. Nothing wrong with that; but there’s huge potential for this device.
Crucially, operating in Survival Mode, the Quench Sea can be manually operated using a hand-crank to produce over two litres of fresh drinking water an hour, which is definitely way better than polishing off a sock full of Bear’s wee.
Inside the rather cheap and cheerful-looking exterior, the Quench Sea has a built-in triple pre-filtration system and a reverse osmosis membrane that works to remove salts and particles as small as 0.01 microns. Bacteria, microplastics and even viruses are all removed during the process as the water is forced through a series of semi-permeable membranes prior to emerging as drinking water that is below 1000 TDS, or total dissolved solids. That’s a long way from the 35,000 TDS of seawater. Average water quality, by the way, is usually between 200 and 500 TDS.
All you need to do is crank the handle and horrible saline-saturated seawater slowly becomes fresh drinking water. There appears to be very little to go wrong too, with only the filters needing to be replaced from time to time, depending on how much aqua you’ve transformed. They can be yours for just $14.
For something so potentially fantastic it doesn’t cost much to buy either, with an introductory price of $84 going up to $99 after an initial promotional campaign. However, for the next 30 days it can be purchased from Indiegogo at a reduced price of $45. Not bad for something that could save your life, eh? That said; deliveries are not expected until February 2021.
Lee King, CEO of London-based start-up Hydro Wind Energy, the company behind Quench Sea, said: “This is a groundbreaking product that has taken more than a year to develop. We started out trying to make a low-cost device that could help solve the world’s water crisis but soon realised its weight, dimensions and price-point made it ideal for the adventurer market.
That is why we have combined both routes to ensure a positive humanitarian outcome. Two thirds of the global population live in water scarce areas and seven million die each year from water related diseases. We hope this product launch can go some way to solving that.”
What’s more, every Quench Sea order will also help to save the lives of others across the world in one of two ways. Each full price purchase will see the company provide one additional device for use by humanitarian clean water partners, as part of its ambitious vision to solve the global water crisis.
Those who don’t need one personally can also choose to donate $45 on Indiegogo towards the cost of a single device and the company will pass this unit onto its partners.
Sunil Lavani, CEO of Project Maji, one of the beneficiaries from the donations of Quench Sea devices, added: “This is a profoundly significant invention. For the first time in history, an accessibly priced device is available to turn seawater into fresh water instantly.”
While Quench Sea may be starting its journey on Indiegogo, the folks behind the project claim that it’s just phase one of their mission to donate 100 million units towards humanitarian efforts by 2027. To do that, the business has to be able to scale up its production capabilities.
The ambition is to sell one million full-price units during its first 30-day pre-order phase. That’s a tall order, but Quench Sea apparently only needs to raise $72,000 to begin full production.
In manufacturing terms that’s small fry. A drop in the ocean even.