Everyone knows that Dean Kamen is a real creative guy (remember the Segway) who is often far ahead ofthe rest of the pack. A new initiative by him in collaboration with Iqbal Quadir (of Grameen phone fame) aims to provide clean water from cow dung. The solution is a combination of a power plant powered by biomass (cow dung is one of the things that it can burn) and a water purifier powered by it. Trials are on in Bangladesh and the device seems to have an economic model as well.
As ever the innovation is in the execution. Quadir is also a visionary who buys into distributed power as a kind of democratic principle. Some quotes below.
Instead of putting up a 500-megawatt power plant in a developing country, he argues, it would be much better to place 500,000 one-kilowatt power plants in villages all over the place, because then you would create 500,000 entrepreneurs.
"Isn't that better for democracy?" Quadir asks. "We see a shortage of democracy in the world, and we are surprised. If you strengthen the economic hands of people, you will foster real democracy."