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

Chase Center and the Golden State Warriors hosted a media Welcome Back conference to discuss the safety protocols and amenities when fans return for a basketball game on April 23rd at Chase Center on April 13, 2021 in San Francisco, California. (Photography by Chris Victorio | Special to the S.F. Examiner).
Golden State Warriors ready to welcome fans back to Chase Center

COVID-19 tests, app-based food ordering among new safety protocols announced this week

People came out in numbers to memorialize George Floyd, who was fatally shot by police, outside San Francisco City Hall on June 9, 2020. (Kevin N. Hume/S.F. Examiner)
SFPD prepares for possible protests as Chauvin trial continues

Police to schedule community meetings, provide officers with crowd control training

Mayor London Breed said Tuesday that with other counties moving ahead with expanding vaccine eligibility “we want San Franciscans to have the same opportunity.” (Kevin N. Hume/S.F. Examiner)
Everyone in SF ages 16 and up is now eligible for the COVID-19 vaccine

San Francisco expanded eligibility for the COVID-19 vaccine Tuesday to everyone ages… Continue reading

San Francisco Park Rangers have seen their budget and staffing levels increase significantly since 2014. (Kevin N. Hume/S.F. Examiner)
Citations for being in SF’s public parks after midnight soar

Data shows disproportionate impact on Black residents

Parents and students line up socially distanced before the first day of in-person learning at Bret Harte Elementary School on Monday, April 12, 2021. (Kevin N. Hume/S.F. Examiner)
‘It’s a beautiful sight’: The first students return to the classroom

San Francisco’s youngest public school students stepped into classrooms for in-person learning… Continue reading

Most Read