University of Massachusetts, Lowell, 2005 - $12,500
Almost one billion people worldwide do not have access to safe drinking water, most in the developing world. To combat this massive problem, this E-Team created water purification technology in which contaminated water is put into a recycled plastic bottle coated with titanium dioxide and placed in the sun for several hours, killing not only bacteria but other harmful substances such as arsenic and herbicides. The team developed a low-cost manufacturing system for the bottles, field tested the bottles in the network of Peruvian villages they worked with for eight years prior, and researched proper approaches to commercialization of the technology. The team also pursued the possibility of adding a color-changing dye to the bottles to indicate when the destruction of harmful substances in the water has occurred and it is safe to drink.