Innovation in the WASH sector
In 2020, WIPO GREEN released a Global Challenges Brief titled Innovative Technology in the Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH) Sector. The publication focuses on innovation and technology to improve the water management process throughout its various components, including reserves replenishment, sustainable extraction, transport and distribution, as well as treatment and disposal of wastewater.
It also addresses several ways in which innovative water-management technologies have evolved, for example: early warning systems, remote sensing and geographical information systems (GIS), satellites, unmanned aerial vehicles (or drones), blockchain technologies, and water loss and sensor-based management systems. The publication specifies advantages and limitations of these solutions and includes real-world, practical examples; it also includes innovations in development, such as desert water harvesting technologies, for example.
Wastewater treatment – an inclusive process
Meet Prof. Merlinda A. Palencia, a researcher at Adamson University in the Philippines, who invented an organic process to turn wastewater into clean water that can be used for irrigation purposes. Her invention, Vigromin, is a fully organic and eco-friendly powder, composed of a blend of minerals and other natural components. The technology differs greatly from traditional products for water purification typically found on the market, many of which are highly chemical or highly mechanized, making it challenging to use for small enterprises and individual households.
Vigormin can be used by anyone, making water treatment a participative and inclusive process. After regular application of Vigormin for at least 60 days, the treated water that would otherwise be wasted can be safely reused for drip irrigation of crops.
Vigormin is currently protected as a trade secret by Adamson University and registered with the Bureau of Patents of the IP Office of the Philippines (IPOPHL) as a utility model. In 2020, Prof. Palencia launched a start-up company – Envigor – to make the treatment accessible to everyone. The names Vigormin and Envigor are registered as trademarks in the Philippines.
Water innovation on the WIPO GREEN database
The WIPO GREEN database is a catalogue of sustainable solutions and needs from across the world. It offers technologies from prototype to marketable products, available for license, collaboration, joint ventures, and sale. It also contains needs as defined by companies, institutions, non-governmental organizations and governments looking for technologies to address specific environmental, food security, or climate-change related challenges.
Over 200 technologies and 30 needs relating to water can be found on the WIPO GREEN database, sub-divided into categories such as water treatment, desalinization, and water reserves assessment, monitoring, and control. The database entries come from a total of 37 countries across five continents, the highest numbers of contributions originating from Israel (59), the United States (56), and Kenya (32).
Water purification device using solar energy, by Toyo Aluminium Ekco Products Co., Ltd., Japan
Toyo Aluminium Ekco Products have developed a water purification device that uses solar energy easily and inexpensively without requiring large facilities. Through the combination of a concave condensing mechanism, a heating container, and a distillation pipe, this small-scale solution will allow access to clean water to be a reality for more people around the globe.
New irrigation technology to mitigate water scarcity in Argentina, by National Agricultural Technology Institute (INTA), Argentina
Due to an increase in water consumption in Argentina, water scarcity is becoming critical, particularly under conditions of climate change. Improving water usage efficiency, employing new technologies and automated systems for irrigation are critical needs.
Water related technologies can also be found in the following categories:
- Pollution and waste, such as the treatment of industrial wastewater by high temperature and high pressure water oxidation by Ricoh Company, Ltd., Japan
- Energy, such as micro hydropower generation turbines by Green Energy Development Co., USA
- Farming and forestry, such as fish breeding construction by Brügger Øystein, Norway
- Product, materials, and processes, such as a food packaging solution made from plant-derived materials by Meiji University Center for Polymer Science, Japan
- Building and construction, such as a high humidity storage container by The Ministry for Agriculture and Rural Affairs for the State of NSW, Australia
- Transportation, such as environmentally friendly coatings for marine applications by the NDSU Research Foundation, USA