The MSR SE200 Community Chlorine Maker may be small, but this briefcase-size device packs a powerful punch. It uses salt, water, and as little as 12 volts of electricity to produce chlorine. In just five minutes, the SE200 can manufacture enough of the chemical to sanitize 200 liters of drinking water.
When the device was unveiled last year by global development nonprofit PATH and outdoor gear manufacturer Mountain Safety Research (MSR), the global development world was abuzz. The SE200 could be revolutionary in developing countries, where sanitation and clean drinking water are still major public health concerns.
Now MSR, PATH and their partners plan to bring the device to half a million people worldwide — starting with an IndieGoGo campaign.
Although the crowdfunding campaign’s goal is $50,000, the long-term goal is to bring safe water treatments to a large population, said Patrick Diller, MSR Business Development Manager for Global Health.
“This IndieGoGo campaign is the start of that, so whatever we can do with this is great, and we will continue on after the campaign with other initiatives until we reach that goal and beyond,” he said.
Diller said MSR turned to crowdfunding because of its immediacy: other funding methods tend to drag on, and MSR’s partners — Operation Blessing International and WorldVision — saw immediate need for the device, and had the ability to deploy it quickly.
Operation Blessing International was able to use some of the earliest funds to deploy 100 SE200 units to Haiti after the earthquake there, which helped combat outbreaks of cholera and other disaster-related public health crises. Diller said crowdfunding helps them move agilely to respond to other crises as they arise instead of waiting on funding.
Another advantage of crowdfunding, he said, is the ability to draw on the great public interest in the device. SE200 enjoyed widespread public support, including winning a coveted spot as the audience choice of “Inventions We Love” during the 2015 GeekWire Summit.
Check out the video of that event below.
“There’s a lot of people that are interested in these types of programs and want to be able to contribute to these types of things, so we felt this was a good opportunity to pull that all together and make an immediate impact,” Diller said.
While the chlorine is largely used to make safe drinking water, it can also be used in higher concentrations to make solutions that sanitize medical centers, schools, and even homes, Diller said. All these uses help prevent disease and provide resources to impoverished communities.
“The side benefits of all of that is that children can go to school, people can go to work, so it improves overall economic conditions for families and communities,” Diller said.
As of publishing, the device’s IndieGoGo campaign has been supported by 417 backers, who have collectively raised $32,819 towards the effort. The campaign ends on Nov. 30.