While attending graduate school at the Academy of Art University in San Francisco, Kim Hoffman designed a life raft that could turn seawater into portable drinking water. Her unique creation is the Sea Kettle, which recently made the shortlist of this year’s James Dyson Award competition and could mean the difference between life and death for a person stranded on the open sea.
The Sea Kettle is an insulated, sturdy shelter, which is capable of transforming seawater into fresh water. A person using the raft operates hand pumps within the cabin that draws seawater into a Gortex-covered plastic reservoir located on the roof of the raft. The heat from the sun aids in the process of desalination by causing the water to evaporate. The vapor thus created becomes salt free and can be collected and contained within the walls of the raft.
Hoffman says her inspiration came from two sources. Languid summers spent along the sea-side at her family’s summer home in Massachusetts made her think about all the water available to someone stranded at sea and the fact that no one could ever drink it. She copied the concept utilized by the portable water desalination Water Cone made by Mage Water Management and applied it to a conventional life raft design. In their design, evaporating water from a bottom tray condenses onto the walls of a cone-shaped lid.
In her own words:
“Inspiration for this project came from the many stories of people suffering from extreme dehydration or death while being stranded in a life raft at sea. With water all around, I thought, there’s no way this should happen. There’s got to be a way to turn the seemingly endless amount of ocean water into viable drinking water. So, that is what I set out to do…”
In the case of the Sea Kettle, the seawater in the reservoir on the roof allows the condensed water droplets to collect in one of four shafts and then flow down into pockets, which can be accessed from inside the raft by drinking through a tube. Hoffman says the raft can provide drinking water for up to five people on a daily basis.
The idea of providing both insulated, reliable shelter as well as fresh drinking water is positively brilliant. The overall winner for the James Dyson Aware will be announced October 5 and will be awarded more than US $15,000.
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