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Friday Props #16

Cyndi here this week. I watched the conclusion of the Democratic Convention last night with a 19 year old and the discussion we had after left me cogniscent how the scope of some of the problems we face as a nation and as a world can lead to feelings of powerlessness--the problems are so big that is seems one individual can't make a dent in them. But the truth is that creativity, thinking outside the box, and a "can do" attitude can make for surprising solutions for even the largest of problems. This weeks props go out to inventors who think on a small and local scale about how to solve big global problems. And yes--I know this truly granola crunching hippe save the world kinda stuff...but that is a part of who I am.

Clean Water From Almost Anything  Wet--The Slingshot  Dean Kamen, best known for his inventon of the Segway, a personal transportation favorite of Ed's grandfather "Pops", is busy working on several other inventions including the Slingshot Water Purification System. Clean water is a huge problem for much of the world. Kamen's invention uses distillation to produce clean water for about 100 people a day from a machine that costs $1000 - $2000. Distillation is a fantastic process which boils anything wet, from salt water to sewage, to produce pure clean water from the resulting water vapors while heavy metals, toxins and organic matter are left behind. The problem with distillation in the past is that it required so much energy, but Kamen's machine uses less power that a toaster oven— only about 2% of the power of other distillation water systems. Check it out--it's really quite remarkable.  

Housing for Refugees—Recycled Pallet Houses My brother Greg is really into tiny houses, so these pallet houses by Architects Suzan Wines and Azin Valy are right up his alley. The architects were trying to find the perfect building material for refugee housing in Kosovo, something plentiful, affordable and recyclable, when Wines literally stumbled upon shipping palletes walking home from work one night. Using only shipping palletes, zip ties and and simple hand tools even those without any building experience can build their own home (although living in the Northeast in winter might prove challenging in one of these structures!)  Larry Winiarski - Lifetime Achievement Award from PCIA Moderator on Vimeo. Tackling Indoor Smoke-The Rocket Stove 1.5 million die prematurely each year due to exposure to indoor smoke produced from burning coal and biomass indoors for heating and cooking needs. Larry Winiarski  received a Lifetime Achievement Award from the Partnership for Clean Indoor Air for his invention of the Rocket Stove. Made cheaply from local materials, the Rocket Stove burns a variety of fuels and its special design fully combusts the smoke at very high temperatures resulting in much less smoke. The stoves also burn only about half of the fuel of traditional open fires and hundreds of thousand of these stoves have now been built and are in use world-wide. Props to forward thinking inventors who didn't let the scope of the problem get in the way of creative thinking!