The WaterPod won the National James Dyson Award for its innovative way to resolve water problems for communities living near the ocean.
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Innovation comes naturally for some young Malaysians.
Last year, two young Malaysians from the Asia Pacific University of Technology & Innovation (APU) created a fridge that doesn’t need electricity and earned themselves the Malaysia National James Dyson Award.
This year, three other Malaysian students from the same university have yet again won the national title, but this time with an invention that could provide clean drinking water to communities living near the ocean.
The brains behind this genius invention
Bennie Beh Hue May, Loo Xin Yang and Yap Chun Yoon, who are second-year students at the School of Media, Arts and Design (Somad) at APU, won the national chapter competition of the James Dyson Award last month (25 August).
The Malay Mail reported that the APU product design students learned about the reality of sea nomads lives through one of their lecturers Eekang Ooi, who works with a non-profit to assist sea nomads, and another lecturer Saifullizan Abdul Wahab.
A floating device to improve the livelihood of sea nomads
Following a series of brainstorming sessions, the trio came up with the WaterPod, a sustainable floating desalination pod to resolve water problems and improve the living conditions of sea nomads.
Sea nomads, like Sabah’s Bajau community, live on the coasts and islands in Southeast Asia. They reportedly collect rainwater or barter tap water wherever and whenever they can due to lack of access to clean water.
By having access to clean water, these communities can become self-sustaining by farming fruits and vegetables.
How it works is that the invention utilizes a self-cleaning solar desalination system, which facilitates seawater absorption through a wick cord and delivers sea water until it reaches the black fabric (as seen in the illustration above).
The evaporation process then occurs when exposed to the sunlight and collects the vapours which eventually condenses into drinking water that can be retrieved using a water pump.
Future plans and the International 2021 James Dyson Award
While already an amazing feat, by winning the finals that take place year-end, the students hope they can attract potential industry collaborators, investors and researchers to further develop the WaterPod.
As the aim of creating this WaterPod is to provide clean water to the community to improve their livelihood, to be able to commercialise the unit will be a bonus for the sea nomads as a certain percentage of the profit can then be channelled back to work with the community.– Yap Chun Yoon, Somad @ APU student via the Malay Mail
As 2021 National Winners, the team received a cash prize of RM10,000 and a spot on the international stage competing against 84 other finalists from around the world for the International 2021 James Dyson Award.
The award, named after the British inventor, industrial designer, and entrepreneur, is an international student design award that challenges young people to “design something that solves a problem”.
The contest is open to university-level students in the fields of product design, industrial design and engineering.
Last year’s International James Dyson Award went to Spain’s Judit Giró Benet. Her invention, The Blue Box, is a new way to detect breast cancer at home using urine sample.
Good luck to all the finalists and all the best to the team behind the WaterPod.
Former advertising mad woman - turned mother to an amazing little girl born 3 months early - and now a returned writer. Also a textbook ambivert with no clue about today's pop music but a walking encyclopedia of music from the 80s and 90s.