Red Bird System Filters Water With the Help of the Sun



Water is a precious resource. Consider a few facts about clean drinking water. Twenty percent of the world’s population lacks access to clean drinking water. By 2050 over two billion people will not have access to clean drinking water. Less than one percent of the earth’s water supply can be used for drinking water. An estimated 1.6 million lives could be saved by providing access to clean drinking water. The earth has the same amount of water as over a million years ago, but six billion people now live on the planet.

Enter a company called Cardinal Resources which specializes in high capacity water filtration. Located in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, the company formed in 2004. Last year’s revenue totaled $4.4 million from the company’s environmental engineering and remediation work, with $25.6 million in revenue projected for 2011.

Cardinal Resources developed a patented system that is powered by solar energy to produce clean drinking water for 1,000 people a day. Called Red Bird, the system can produce 10 to 20 gallons of water a minute. It uses sand to disinfect the water without affecting the taste, as the company claims. According to the company’s website, the Red Bird system has an integrated pumping unit suitable for surface water sources and deep wells. Housed in a 20-foot shipping container, the system costs $100,000.

Kevin Jones, president of the company, came up with the idea of developing the system while in Liberia where he noticed people used contaminated surface water because groundwater was not accessible. Cardinal Resources plans to ship the first unit on October 6 to a private purchaser in China who will use it for bottled water.

Barbara Jones of Cardinal Resources told Clean Tech, “There are a lot of systems for filtering water, but many involve expensive and sophisticated membranes that may not be available everywhere in the world.” The Red Bird system, according to Jones, is “very rugged.” She added that there are many water filtration systems that “involve expensive and sophisticated membranes that may not be available everywhere in the world.”

The global water market is $600 billion to $700 billion opportunity, according to Cardinal Resources, and for community-sized systems, it is about $10 billion. The company wants to market the Red Bird system to distributors. Jones said Cardinal raised $1 million investment, and is seeking over $5 million more over the next six months to market products in West Africa, Brazil, and Mexico.

“We are so motivated to make this happen,” Jones said. “We are anxious for investment because it will allow us to move forward faster.”

Gina-Marie Cheeseman

Gina-Marie is a freelance writer and journalist armed with a degree in journalism, and a passion for social justice, including the environment and sustainability. She writes for various websites, and has made the 75+ Environmentalists to Follow list by

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