By harnessing the power of the sun, Monash alumnus Jon Liow (BID(Hons) 2011) designed a simple, sustainable and affordable water-purification device, which has the potential to help eradicate disease and save lives.
A trip to Cambodia inspired Mr Liow to design the Solarball; its innovative design removes lethal contaminants from village water, and could be the difference between life and death for thousands of people each year.
The Solarball, developed as Mr Liow’s final year project during his Bachelor of Industrial Design, can produce up to three litres of clean water every day. The spherical unit absorbs sunlight and causes dirty water contained inside to evaporate. As evaporation occurs, contaminants are separated from the water, generating drinkable condensation. The condensation is collected and stored, ready for drinking.
Liow’s design was driven by a need to help the 900 million people around the world who lack access to safe drinking water. More than two million children die annually from preventable causes, triggered largely by contaminated water. It is an increasing problem in developing nations due to rapid urbanisation and population growth.
“After visiting Cambodia in 2008 and seeing the immense lack of everyday products we take for granted, I was inspired to use my design skills to help others,” Mr Liow said.
Mr Liow’s design is user-friendly and durable with a weather-resistant construction making it well suited to people in hot, wet, tropical climates with limited access to resources.
“The challenge was coming up with a way to make the device more efficient than other products available without making it too complicated, expensive, or technical,” Mr Liow said.
The product was named as a finalist in the 2011 Australian Design Awards - James Dyson Award and was also featured on ABC’s ‘New Inventors’.
Upon graduating Mr Liow secured a job as a Product Designer at Kincrome, an Australian tool and equipment company.
“Kincrome is a great place to gain industry experience and confidence in the design field,” Mr Liow said.
“Being able to work directly with manufacturers and customers that have a long-term relationship with a brand gives you the opportunity to be involved with some big projects and have direct influence over the design and manufacturing process.”
Aside from his role at Kincrome, Mr Liow puts his skills to work as a freelance designer combining his passion for product design and humanitarian design.
“I am also taking time to explore my own product ideas, whether they be quirky design observations or everyday interpretations of household items,” Mr Liow said.
“Mixing things up helps to keep my mind fresh.”