Clean water is still hard to get for many of the poorest people of the world living in underdeveloped countries. Bangladesh now has more people than Russia, and most of its people suffer from water that either leads to dysentery and disease or contains dangerous levels of arsenic. Millions of others live along the seacoast where water is all around, yet not fit to drink. Desalinization is expensive and energy intensive. But two research projects have the potential to bring clean fresh water to millions using solar or wave power.
A British company has produced now 4 prototype solar powered desalinization units they call the Desolenator. http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/p02dgdhf#playt=0h07m35s The family-sized unit has a single insulated solar panel measuring about 3 feet by 5 feet and produces about 4 gallons per day of distilled water.
The company is still in the development stage optimizing the product and plans to produce 100 units in the first half of 2015, scaling up to 1000 units in the second half. They are currently raising $150,000 for refining the process on Indiegogo. https://www.indiegogo.com/projects/desolenator-transforming-sunshine-into-water The unit produces about 4 gallons per day and costs under $500.
In Quebec, students at Sherbrooke University are working on using wave power to desalinate sea water by reverse osmosis. The students are designing a second prototype unit designed with a buoy on top and an anchor below to desalinate 925 gallons per day. The wave motion drives a hydraulic cylinder pump that pushes the seawater through a reverse-osmosis membrane and pumps the fresh water to shore.
The students are now raising $8,600 on Kickstarter to fund construction and testing of the second prototype. https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/1489787892/lets-make-fresh-water-with-the-power-of-waves