Being the pilot

The FLOW filter will be a portable, gravity operated water purifier that is easy to use and store. Its main feature is that it will fit into a jerry can, which is the common option for water collection and water storage in households during emergency situations.

The bad news is: time flies. The good news is: you’re the pilot

We knew that we were working on a tight timeline with regards to developing the Tulip FLOW Siphon water filter (hereafter called FLOW filter). As the pilots of this great new innovation, we would like to take you on our journey to find out about the latest developments and challenges.

Our greatly committed and dedicated innovation team has been working hard on developing the prototype. After many discussions and designs, the first prototypes were made and received. Of course, this gave way to even more discussions on further improvements and adjustments, as getting it right the first time in technical innovations is very rare. In particular, the inner part of the filter presented some technical design and production challenges.

The prototypes were mainly made using 3D printers – watch the video to see how a part of the new prototype is being printed. In addition, we were in touch with many different suppliers to obtain the necessary components and put them all together in the first prototypes. In the last few months, we have experienced just how difficult it can be, as a small company with very limited manpower and in-house resources (such as labs, 3D printers), overcoming the many challenges (like language barriers) and difficulties in finding the right suppliers.

Our aim is to come up with a very sustainable and green solution. As all current membrane technologies are disposable, we want to develop a system which means the filter is easy to replace instead of disposing of the entire product. In addition, aspects such as the durability of the materials and the price, played a role in finding partners. Therefore, we sometimes had to decide to switch and find new suppliers for particular parts.

We are happy to mention that we expect all components to come in by next week and the next version of the prototype will be assembled and tested at the lab thereafter. In the meantime, we will work on creating a user manual to get the new product ready for testing in the field.

Our partners in Nepal, Zambia and Ecuador are looking forward to testing out this new product. And after feedback is collected, some more adjustments might be done.

Basic Water Needs, Ghana

Credit: Basic Water Needs, Ghana

Being focused on the technical challenge doesn’t mean we lose sight of the ultimate goal. The picture on the left was recently taken by one of our team members in Ghana, illustrating the need for easy-to-use, portable and durable HWTS solutions. Our dream is that our new FLOW filter will bridge the gap in current technologies, and that lives of people who already face so much will be made easier through prevention of waterborne diseases.

Our technical pilots are already taking off again for the following steps of this innovation. Stay tuned for the next update!

Elrha is hosted by Save the Children, a registered charity in England and Wales (213890) and Scotland (SC039570).

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