A machine that filters sweat into clean drinking water

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UNICEF and a youth soccer tournament have collaborated to develop the sweat machine: a machine that extracts sweat from clothes, purifies it and transforms it into drinking water.

In a bid to highlight children’s rights to clean drinking water the Sweat for Water campaign was the brainchild of Stockholm PR agency Deportivo, who were asked to engage with visitors to the Gothia Cup tournament in Gothenburg, Sweden, by highlighting how difficult life is when you don’t have access to clean, safe drinking water.

The Sweat for Water campaign came together with Swedish mechatronic engineer Andreas Hammar to build the sweat machine: at one end sweaty clothes are thrown in and at the other, purified water drips out.
Hammar claims that the critical part of the sweat machine is a new water purification component developed by water purification company HVR in collaboration with Sweden’s Royal Institute of Technology. The technique is called membrane distillation (check out the video below).

“We use a substance that’s a bit like Goretex that only lets steam through but keeps bacteria, salts, clothing fibres and other substances out. They have something similar on the [International] Space Station to treat astronaut’s urine – but our machine was cheaper to build,” said Hammar.

At the Gothia Cup, which took place from 14 to 20 July, spectators were asked to take part by either contributing their sweat after riding exercise bikes next to the machine or drinking a glass of the purified sweat. For each glass drunk, sponsors bought water purification tablets for UNICEF.

Organisers claim that 2,290 people at Gothia Cup drank purified sweat. These as well as people from all over the world who have engaged with the Sweat for Water campaign since it launched, has helped contribute enough water purification tablets to clean nearly 23,750,000 litres of water.

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Lack of access to clean water is a real a crisis in the world. Unicef states there are still 768 million people who use unimproved and usually unsafe water sources.

It’s great that a quirky campaign such as this has helped raise awareness for such a worthy cause although if this machine makes its way to our shores, I’d rather give sweat than receive it, even if it is purified.

The making of the Sweat Machine from Deportivo on Vimeo.


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