The way fresh water is supplied to disaster-hit regions could be revolutionised after an Ipswich-based businessman invented a £190 bottle that makes foul-smelling water drinkable in seconds.
Michael Pritchard hopes that the bottle could be a life-saver for refugees in disaster regions where access to clean drinking water is vital. However, the military are already latching on to his idea. Four hours after Mr Pritchard launched his new "Life Saver" bottle at the DESI defence show in London yesterday, he sold out his entire 1,000 stock. "I am bowled over," he said.
Military chiefs are excited because the bottles, which can distill either 4,000 litres or 6,000 litres without changing the filter, will have huge benefits for soldiers who hate drinking iodine-flavoured water.
In July a protype of the bottle was voted "Best Technological Development" at the Soldier Technology conference.
Mr Pritchard, who runs a water treatment business in Ipswich, was inspired after watching coverage of the tsunami in south-east Asia on Boxing Day 2004 and of Hurricane Katrina in Louisiana the following year.
He was amazed to see refugees waiting for days to get any fresh water. He said: "Something had to be done. It took me a little while and some very frustrating prototypes but eventually I did it."
Conventional filters can cut out bacteria measuring more than 200 nanometres but not viruses, which typically are 25 nanometres long. Mr Pritchard's bottle can clean up any water - including faecal matter - using a filter that cuts out anything longer than 15 nanometres, which means that viruses can be filtered out without the use of chemicals.