It's a bicycle built for pure water, too

A group of young Peninsula designers who just wanted to have fun creating a new bicycle ended up making a funky-looking device that could help solve a health issue plaguing 1.1 billion people across the world.

Team Aquaduct, a five-member Peninsula squad consisting of design professionals from the Palo Alto– and San Francisco-based firm Ideo, created a bike in 2½ weeks that provides clean drinking water using only renewable energy.

Here’s how the Aquaduct bike works: Someone pedals the blue, tricycle-like machine to a water source such as a pond and fills a 20-gallon tank in the back of the bike. While riding back, the pedaling powers the water through a filtration device in the middle of the bike, and the filtered water is deposited in a two-gallon tank in front of the handlebars.

Last week, the bike won Google’s “Innovate or Die Pedal-Powered Machine Contest,” which challenged 102 teams across the country to create a pedal-powered solution to offset climate change.

Now, the team is receiving interest from water-filter manufacturers and other groups that want to expand the prototype on a wider scale, and more than 520,000 people have viewed its YouTube video demonstration.

“Filters are a huge challenge in the developing world,” said group member Adam Mack, 24, of Menlo Park. “There will be families and villages changed by us winning the competition.”

Mack is one of four twentysomethings in the group, joined by 44-year-old John Lai, of San Bruno. Working and living on the Peninsula and in Silicon Valley meant the group already started with the “spirit of invention,” Lai said. The environmental awareness the team experiences on an everyday basis in the Bay Area also gave it an advantage in the competition, he said.

The group originally kicked around ideas inspired by local events, said member Brian Mason, 26, of Menlo Park. The team discussed a pedal-powered oil skimmer in light of the Cosco Busan spill and a pedal-powered water-transport device that could have helped combat the recent Southern California wildfires, he said.

The group is donating its prize money to KickStart International, a San Francisco-based nonprofit that specializes in developing new technologies.

“We can see a business model where individual entrepreneurs could use the bike to sell clean water door to door in the developing world,” KickStart development Director Ken Weimar said.

mrosenberg@examiner.com

By the numbers

» 1.1 billion: People without clean drinking water worldwide

» 101: Groups Team Aquaduct defeated

» 20: Gallons the rear tank can hold

» 2: Gallons of filtered water the front tank can hold

» $5,000: Team Aquaduct’s prize for winning

» 50 cents: Monthly cost to maintain bike’s filter

» 2½: Weeks spent on project

Source: Team Aquaduct, contest officials

Bay Area NewsLocal

If you find our journalism valuable and relevant, please consider joining our Examiner membership program.
Find out more at www.sfexaminer.com/join/

Just Posted

Dave Hodges, pastor at Zide Door, the Church of Entheogenic Plants that include marijuana and psilocybin mushrooms, holds some psychedelic mushrooms inside the Oakland church on Friday, July 22, 2021. (Kevin N. Hume/The Examiner)
Psychedelic spirituality: Inside a growing Bay Area religious movement

‘They are guiding us into something ineffable’

More than a thousand people gathered in front of the California Capitol building to protest Gov. Gavin Newsom’s stay at home order and demand that the state re-open on May 1, 2020. (Photo by Anne Wernikoff for CalMatters)
Newsom blames ‘right-wing pundits’ for COVID surge

By Emily Hoeven CalMatters Gov. Gavin Newsom on Monday placed the blame… Continue reading

Strong California revenues will allow the state to commit to offering no-cost food to every student. (Amanda Mills/Pixnio)
How California plans to offer free daily meals to 6 million public school students

By Ali Tadayon EdSource With one in every six children facing hunger… Continue reading

Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.), pictured here in 2012, was assaulted robbed and assaulted near Oakland’s Jack London Square on Monday, July 26th, 2021.(Brendan Hoffman/The New York Times)
Former U.S. Sen. Boxer robbed, assaulted in Oakland

By Lauren Hard New York Times Barbara Boxer, 80, a former U.S.… Continue reading

San Francisco Police stand guard outside the Mission Police Station during a protest over the Minneapolis police killing of George Floyd on Saturday, May 30, 2020. (Kevin N. Hume/S.F. Examiner)
Fired: California bill aims to decertify police for serious misconduct

By Robert Lewis CalMatters On a Wednesday afternoon in April 2018, Gardena… Continue reading

Most Read