Watly: The computer that provides clean water, energy, internet access

Story highlights

  • The Watly machine provides power, water and internet access using solar energy
  • It can deliver 5,000 liters of safe drinking water each day
  • Trials for the car-sized device are ongoing in Ghana

(CNN)Touted by its creators as the "world's largest solar-powered computer," it could offer a quantum leap for development across rural Africa.

The Watly machine, created by an Italian-Spanish start-up of the same name, resembles a futuristic space capsule. But its mission is to provide electricity, clean water, and Internet services that could transform lives and economies across rural Africa.
    Around 625 million people in Sub-Saharan Africa are currently without electricity -- more than two-thirds of the population -- while 39% lack access to safe water.
      "This is an infrastructure solution for people without access to three fundamental pillars of civilization," says Watly founder Marco Attisani. "We are (taking) people to the heart of the 21st century."

      Patented technology

      The system works by capturing solar energy through photovoltaic panels on the surface of the Watly module, which is converted into electricity through an internal 140 kwh battery.
      This powers a patented water treatment system that uses a graphene-based filtering process, before the water is boiled and then distilled. The process can deliver 5,000 liters of safe drinking water each day.
      The battery also powers a connectivity hub that provides wireless internet access within an 800-meter radius, and a charging station for electronic and mobile devices.
      During its 15 years of service, one Watly can reduce emissions to the tune of 2,500 tons of greenhouse gases, equivalent to 5,000 barrels of oil, its makers say.
      Watly has already tested a prototype in rural Ghana, and the next step is to roll out units across the continent, starting with Nigeria and Sudan.

      Local partners, international investors