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Innovation

At $21, the world's cheapest water purifier

Tata Chemicals has announced what it believes is the cheapest water purifier in the world.
Written by Andrew Nusca, Contributor on

Tata Chemicals has announced what it believes is the cheapest water purifier in the world.

The India-based company, which made its name from the launch of the Nano compact, the world's cheapest car, aims to provide clean drinking water to the 894 million people around the globe who lack access to it.

Called the Swach -- that's Hindi for "clean" -- the purifier costs just $21 and doesn't require electricity or running water to operate.

"Safe drinking water is the most basic of human needs," Tata Sons chairman Ratan Tata said in prepared remarks. "The social cost of water contamination is already enormous and increases every year.  Although today’s announcement is about giving millions more people affordable access to safe water, it is an important step in the long-term strategy to find a solution to provide affordable access to safe water for all."

The Swach's filter uses a combination of paddy husk ash and silver particles to kill 80 percent of bacteria that cause waterborne disease. The filter lasts 200 days for a family of five.

Why so inexpensive? India produces 20 million tons of paddy husk ash each year as a byproduct of rice milling. The water purifier puts some of it to better use.

The company said it will initially produce 1 million units per year, with the expectation to ramp up to 3 million units per year within five years' time.

Naturally, India will be the company's first market, where 85 percent of the population consumes unfiltered water. If successful, the company may export the device to Africa.

This post was originally published on Smartplanet.com

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