Researchers at Lund University in Sweden have developed a water purification plant that uses solar cells to provide clean water to remote areas. With the help of Nobel Peace Prize recipient Muhammad Yunus, these small and portable solar cell stations are now being placed across rural Bangladesh.

“750 million people lack access to clean water across the globe,” inventor Kenneth Persson, professor of water resources engineering at Lund University, said.

“Providing safe drinking water is one of the biggest challenges and one of the most important goals for humanity.”

The environmental company Watersprint, founded in 2013 by Professor Persson and engineer Ola Hansson, has patented the technology that helps purify water by combining UV-LED technology with intelligent software and Wi-Fi. The 12-volt system can be run by a single solar panel. The solar cells also charge a battery, which means the portable facility can be used around the clock and in rural areas without access to electricity.

Nobel Prize winner Muhammad Yunus and his organisation Yunus Centre have ordered portable units as part of a pilot project, and in October the first unit was installed in Bangladesh, with another nine units now having been delivered.

The Micro Production Centres are managed by local suppliers and help create jobs for young, unemployed people who run the small facilities and sell clean water in exchange for a small fee. A large part of the population in Bangladesh currently use water contaminated by arsenic.

“Thanks to these portable units, communities can now purchase inexpensive, clean water, and at the same time – in accordance with Muhammad Yunus’s model – a lot of them can make a small profit by running the plants themselves,” Professor Persson said.

Watersprint recently signed a contract with the United Nations to place 500 portable units in Bangladesh.

“The installations are hopefully only the first step to set up similar structures in several other countries that lack access to clean water”, Professor Persson said.