Innovation That Matters

The distiller in action | Photo source Henry Glogau

Portable solar distiller aims to offer clean drinking water across the world


The distiller, which is based on hydrological cycle, is the winner of this year’s Lexus Design Award

Spotted: New Zealand designer Henry Glogau has created a portable solar distiller with the purpose of offering clean drinking water to people all over the world. The distiller is the winner of this year’s Lexus Design Award. 

The distiller, according to Glogau, can cleanse up to 18 litres of undrinkable or contaminated water in 12 hours.  

Glogau came up with the design after a study semester in Chile. While working with the social inclusion NGO Techo, Glogau visited the Mejillones neighbourhood, where he witnessed the “severe weather,” endured by the region

Solar desalination is used for distilling the water through evaporation and condensation. A plastic canopy holds the water, an interior funnel collects the liquid, and together with a bamboo support framework, this makes up the prefabricated model. According to Glogau, the construction may be modified to just employ the canopy and funnel, allowing it to be suspended between buildings, for example.  

In terms of the materials utilised, the design is also customisable. Glogau notes that a locally produced version may utilise wooden components or a plastic bottle as the funnel. 

He told designweek that “The purpose of my design is to encourage others to hack and adapt the system I have created to best suit their needs and environment”. 

In Glogau’s design, two strong polymers that have been stitched together make up the canopy. The top layer is made from UV-resistant translucent material, allowing sunshine to permeate the water. On the other hand, the bottom layer is a heat-absorbing plastic that holds the water. 

With encouragement from the project’s success so far, Glogau aims to further develop the project.  

Written By: Katrina Lane

Explore more: Science Innovations | Sustainability Innovations


Download PDF