Which is why he designed Eliodomestico, a solar-powered eco-distiller that turns seawater into drinking water using the natural heat from the sun, specifically conceived to be a cheap, low-tech device that would be accessible to the developing world.
“I am very close to doctors and operators who work in developing countries where I have also extensively travelled,” says Diamanti. “Hence, I had the opportunity to experience all issues related to the lack of drinking water.”
Diamanti – who last year, during the Salone del Mobile in Milan, created an installation on the street where everyone could fill up their water bottles to drink – sees this new water-related project as more than an obsession, rather a necessity.
He has seen first hand how the crisis of a lack of fresh water affects people and communities.
“Public management of water (where it exists) should be preserved, improved and defended against privatisation (also through sensibilisation campaigns), and in places where this sort of management does not exist, it should be created,” he says.
“Where this isn’t possible due to lack of funds or infrastructure, a system should be put in place so that everyone can autonomously and independently provide for extraction, cleansing and desalting. I think that design can positively give an impact on all these three areas.”
Eliodomestico is a small, vat-like still made of terracotta and zinc-plated metal sheets. Designed to be kept out the front of people’s houses, it works like an upside-down coffee maker.
In the mornings users fill the pressurised pan with dirty water from local sources or with seawater, then over the day the sun’s heat creates steam in the watertight boiler, which drips down into bowl at the bottom where it condenses into water in the bowl placed under the device. This fresh drinking water can then be collected in the evenings.
The still can produce up to five litres of drinking water per day with no filters or electricity, just the power of the sun, making it nearly three times as efficient as existing solar stills of the same size.
“It is by no means a new principle and there are many solar distillers available already on the market. Yet these are all very expensive to manufacture and produce,” says Diamanti. “The estimated price is € 50 – much cheaper than hundreds of other distillers.”
When he originally designed Eliodomestico in 2005, he thought of patenting it. “But while I was filling out all the paperwork I realised that it made no sense,” says Diamanti.
As patents are for commercial purposes, he realised that any company he sold his device to would, understandably, have the primary purpose of earning money from it, which he felt – considering he created the device to make drinking water accessible to the developing world – was a contradiction in motives.
“The result would be that the end user would once again be the slave of a commercial dynamic in order to get a glass of water. So I decided to do away with companies overall,” says Diamanti.
“If I give the project away, I thought, and make it as popular as possible but in an open source way, I basically make it very difficult for anyone to make money out of it.”
His next step, therefore, was to completely redesign the device for open source in order to make it simple enough for it to be crafted, produced and repaired by local craftsmen.
“The first version included an element that needed to be industrially manufactured, while the second one can be made by anyone, in any sort of situation,” he says.
“I wanted it to be as cheap as possible, so I made it out of clay and some zinc sheet, and shaped it as a traditional bowl, so that any craftsman can make it easily. Eliodomestico will always be a local product for the local community.”
Diamanti’s decision to share his idea with the whole world by licensing it through Creative Commons and making it completely open source ensures the concept can spread freely throughout the communities of the world and hopefully reach those who need it most.
For his incredible concept and hard work, one question remains: What does Diamanti earn out of it? To this, he says: “I am afraid I have no answer for this one.” Clearly, however, the large-scale humanitarian potential speaks for itself.
For further information, go to www.creativecommons.org