Living in the developing world has its own perks that includes access to clean water, electricity and appliances that make our lives a lot easier. However, the conditions are just the opposite in many parts of the developing world where people have to work hard for even the most basic of facilities. According to research people living in the rural parts of Africa have to walk for many hours just to get clean water. Moreover, many such villages aren’t even connected to the electric grid, which means basic home appliances are still a futuristic dream for the natives.
While there are lots of problems that the governments of developing and underdeveloped countries have to tackle, a couple of industrial design students at the Philadelphia University, Aaron Stathum and Eliot Coven, have developed a prototype low-cost washing machine for the developing world that if mass produced will cost as less as $4. Dubbed the Up-Stream, the laundry machine is made from readily available recycled materials and is human-powered, so you don’t really need electricity.
The washing machine has been developed after brainstorming on a variety of ideas and the final product is made using a simple 5-gallon bucket, a plastic fiber rope, old water pipes, and a neoprene cover. The human-powered machine can be assembled easily with the bucket attached to a set of water pipes, and a plastic reel with the plastic string over it and neoprene cover that covers the bucket and is used as a stain remover.
To operate, the user first fills the bucket with clothes, detergent and a little water and then closes the cover of the bucket. The user then straps two loops of the plastic rope onto his/her feet and moves his/her legs up and down to bring the bucket into motion. The user can also take out clothes from the washer and scrub them gently onto the neoprene sleeve to remove tough stains. Using natural products such as soap nuts can also do the trick in removing stains. Once the washing process is over, the user can simply rewind the plastic rope onto the reel and pull it back with force so that the bucket revolves at a very fast rate, throwing water out of the clothes. After this process is over, the clothes can be hung on a clothesline to dry out in the sun.
Since the machine is designed to be made mostly from found objects, a marketable version of the product could cost as less as $4. Moreover, the machine is very easy to assemble and repair if something goes wrong. Another benefit is that since the machine doesn’t make use of electricity, it can be a boon for people living in any part of the world that doesn’t have access to grid electricity.