09 Oct 2015
Milan, Italy
Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency

As an industrial designer, Gabriele Diamanti’s philosophy is to have design serve people’s needs. The young Italian is the inventor of a solar oven that can produce up to five litres of clean drinking water a day, solely by harnessing the power of the sun. He calls his project Eliodomestico.

There is an acute need for clean drinking water worldwide. The World Health Organization (WHO) estimates there are 844 million people who still lack access to even a basic drinking water service. There is no shortage of water on Earth — bodies of water cover 72% of the globe, but less than 1% of that liquid is fresh water. As such, the process of desalination of sea water has been presented as a solution in countries with ocean access, but a shortage of water. The technology currently used in the desalination process is extremely energy intensive, though, and its use has been primarily restricted to wealthy countries.

Introducing Eliodomestico:

Diamanti says his invention can help. Eliodomestico is a water distilling solar oven that was created at a low production cost. Water distillers are not a new technology, and have been used for years to desalinate sea water and purify brackish or contaminated water. However, the techniques used to-date have required much labor, expertise, and maintenance. The Eliodomestico device is simple enough to be used by one person in their home, and the cost issue is minimized as the distiller is created with simple materials.

Diamanti began designing the concept for Eliodomestico in 2005 when he graduated from the Polytechnic University of Milan. At the time, he had financial support from the Hermès Foundation. Soon, Diamanti had developed a simple, but effective device: a clay structure containing two tanks — both of which could be manufactured easily and at an affordable cost.

The solar oven that makes salt water drinkable | The Switchers
The solar oven that makes salt water drinkable | The Switchers
A new product has to be simple to understand. Its shape should follow traditional archetypes, and materials used for its production should be anchored in local traditions. Gabriele Diamanti, Inventor of Eliodomestico
The solar oven that makes salt water drinkable | The Switchers

Seeking inspiration from its country of origin, Eliodomestico works like a reverse Italian coffee machine. One tank is filled with saltwater, and is warmed by the heat of the sun. As the temperature and pressure increases, steam forms and is redirected through an outflow tube. The steam condenses when it touches the other container, and falls as water droplets — clean, desalinated drinking water. This technique can produce up to five litres of drinking water per day, without using electricity or filters. No maintenance is required.

The solar oven that makes salt water drinkable | The Switchers
The solar oven that makes salt water drinkable | The Switchers

Diamanti has been recognized for his innovation. The project was a finalist for the 2011 Emile Hermès prize and winner of the 2012 Core77 Design Award in the “social impact” category.

Today, the Eliodomestico is distributed under an open source model, meaning the instructions to construct a solar oven are widely available online. Diamanti hopes this will encourage local production, and expects craftsmen to adapt the design to suit local needs and materials. This delivery system not only provides clean drinking water, but also encourages the development of the local economy.

Eliodomestico Renewable Energy & Energy Efficiency