By: Anika Gupta

Around the world, many families have to walk hours every day to get to clean water and millions of people die from waterborne illnesses. With this in mind, the company Vestergard, and later LifeStraw created filters that could clean water.

The LifeStraw is a plastic tube that about 9.25 inches (23.5 centimeters) long and about an inch (2.5 centimeters) around that can kill bacteria as a person drinks through the straw. The outer shell of the tube is made of a durable plastic, with a string attached so it can be worn by users. The first version of the LifeStraw, created in 2010, used iodine to kill bacteria, but the second version that was made used a completely different filtration system. The straw consists of many filters, and the first one which is 0.2 microns in diameter so it can filter out viruses, dirt, and bacteria. By the time the water reaches your mouth through the straw it is safe to drink, but the water tastes bad as the water was only cleaned so it tastes the same as it originally did. Luckily, activated carbon, that has been heated to increase its surface area, sits just before the mouth piece to remove the taste and give the water a neutral, better flavor. After you drink from the straw, you have to blow air through the straw to clear the filter.

The LifeStraw can filter about 1000 liters (264 gallons) of water before it needs to be replaced. That means it can be used for about a year before is must be replaced.

This relates to engineering because scientists had to test and experiment to find a filtration system that worked best and uses knowledge of filtration system in the past. They saw a problem and brainstormed, researched, prototypes, and tested a solution. In the future, this could prevent illnesses and make sure all water around the world is clean.