Kenora’s Ben Kaufmann is working to bring safe, clean drinking water to remote communities across the nation.

The Industrial Design student at Carleton University travelled to Chicago to compete in the International Housewares Student Design Competition. The competition aims to challenge students to redesign a current housewares product to meet the needs of the future, or to create a concept for a new product. Winning projects are selected for their innovation, understanding of production and marketing principles and quality of entry materials.

His self-powered water distiller, called BIO, impressed the judges enough to take home a shared-first place victory. The BIO Water Distiller removes toxins, bacteria and heavy metals from drinking water, and was designed for the Canadian market where more than 160 remote communities struggle to find clean water. The distillation system utilizes a standard five-gallon water jug and adapts to a gas and electric stove, hot plate, wood stove and more – to allow the user the choice to use a low-cost energy source.

“When I did the research, I found that people just buy bottled water. I really wanted to make water more affordable and accessible for people in remote, northern communities. I wanted families to be able to control their own drinking water. So I designed this product. Using the distillation process, it basically boils the water to steam and then condenses it back to clean water,” he said.

Kaufmann noted that he worked on the design weekly over four months. He added that he would like to see the project move forward and further prototype the product. He estimates that if the product went to market, it would cost between $200 - $300 at retail. He says that he may look into creating a non-profit model for the product, to limit production costs.

“It’s all happened so suddenly. I didn’t expect the level of interest in it,” he added.

For winning the contest, Kaufmann received a $2,500 cash prize and an all-expense paid trip to Chicago for the 2018 International Home and Housewares Show in March. The winning product concept will be seen by over 60,000 attendees and 2,200 exhibiting companies from more than 145 countries.

For more information:
IHA’s 2018 Student Design Competition Winners

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