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Fancy a glass of sweat? Sweat Machine turns perspiration to drinking water


Kevan Karanjia
Staff Writer

Tuesday, July 23, 2013, 3:38 PM - "I'm so thirsty I could drink my own sweat?" That thought may never cross people's mind but a new machine could actually make that a reality by converting perspiration into clean drinking water.

The Sweat Machine is part of a UNICEF campaign to raise awareness for the 750 million people around the world without access to clean drinking water (Photo Courtesy UNICEF)

The Sweat Machine is part of a UNICEF campaign to raise awareness for the 750 million people around the world without access to clean drinking water (Photo Courtesy UNICEF)

It's a hot day outside and you're drenched in sweat, a thirst is beginning to build but there's no drink in sight - it's a problem many have faced but a new UNICEF machine might have the solution - by turning perspiration into drinkable water.

The "Sweat Machine" squeezes sweat from clothing and purifies it into clean drinking water. 

On average, one sweaty exercise shirt could produce 10 milliliters of water. 

The Sweat Machine was developed by celebrity engineer Andreas Hammar and creative agency Deportiv0 - as part of a UNICEF campaign to highlight the fact that over 780 million people around the world lack access to clean water. 

"We wanted to raise this subject in a new, playful and engaging way," said Per Westberg, Deputy Executive Director at UNICEF Sweden, in a press release. "Our Sweat Machine is a reminder that we all share the same water. We all drink and sweat in the same way, regardless of how we look or what language we speak. Water is everyone's responsibility and concern."

The new device was on display for the first time at the Gothia Cup in Gothenburg, Sweden - the world's largest youth soccer tournament. 

Swedish soccer players Mohammed Ali Khan and Tobias Hysén were the first people to sample the refreshments. 

They were followed by hundreds of youth, who surprisingly enjoyed the samples.

Sweat is filtered using a new water purification system, which was developed by a company named HVR, in collaboration with Sweden's Royal Institute of Technology. 

The device first spins and heats clothing to remove sweat. Next it takes the vapour extracted from the material and passes it through a membrane that only allows water molecules through. 

The membrane is similar to Gortex according to its inventor, and manages to keep out salt and other impurities. 

"There are many different techniques to extract and purify water," said Hammar. "The technical challenge was to build the sweat machine like in the space travel industry, where every filthy water drop whether it’s cooling water, urine or just sweat, is invaluable. It is hard to believe, but the water extracted from the machine is actually cleaner than ordinary Swedish tap water."

The making of the Sweat Machine from Deportivo on Vimeo.

While the machine is a breakthrough, it remains impractical for wider use.

A lack of favourable weather conditions means getting people to sweat in large amounts can be difficult, even if they're exercising.

10 milliliters of water is only about a mouthful - so it will be tough to meet the demand for sweat. 

Currently there are no plans to mass produce the device, UNICEF is focusing on other solutions such as water purifying pills.

The pills can make a difference in areas where clean water isn't accessible - costing as low as $30 to distribute 5,000 tablets.   

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