UNICEF and the Gothia Cup, the world’s most international youth tournament in football, have joined forces to develop the world’s first sweat machine, a device that extracts sweat from clothes, purifies it and transforms it into water! The goal (pun intended) of this initiative is to raise awareness about the lack of clean water in the world, with the main purpose of raising money for water purification tablets for children. Participants and visitors of the Gothia Cup were challenged to contribute with their sweaty clothes and dared to drink a glass of sweat! UNICEF and Gothia Cup are collaborating under the signature “United for Children,” with a focus on clean drinking water.
The device spins and heats the material to remove the sweat, then passes the vapour through a special membrane designed to let only water molecules get through and creates a liquid that the creators claim is cleaner than local tap water! The machine was designed and built by engineer Andreas Hammar who says the critical part of the sweat machine was a new water purification component developed by a company called HVR in collaboration with Sweden’s Royal Institute of Technology.
The machine uses a substance that’s a bit like Goretex that only lets steam through, but keeps bacteria, salts, clothing fibres and other substances out. There is something similar on the International Space Station to treat astronaut’s urine. The amount of water it produces depends on how sweaty the person is; one person’s T-shirt typically produces 10ml [0.3oz], which is roughly a mouthful. Two famous soccer players, Tobias Hysén and Mohammed Ali Khan, were the first to drink a glass of “sweat-water” during the Gothia Cup.
In 2008, nearly nine million children died before their fifth birthday, mostly from preventable causes. An estimated 4,000 children die every day from diarrhoea caused by poor sanitation and dirty water, making it the second biggest killer of young children worldwide. If we can make progress the rewards are immense: more children will have time to attend school, instead of walking for hours each week for water or being unable to attend classes because of a lack of private toilets.
Per Westberg, Deputy Executive Director at UNICEF Sweden, says, “We wanted to raise this subject in a new, playful and engaging way. Our Sweat Machine is a reminder that we all share the same water. We all drink and sweat in the same way, regardless of how we look or what language we speak. Water is everyone’s responsibility and concern.” Clean drinking water is a human right, but 780 million people still lack access to this clean basic right and need. UNICEF works in more than 190 countries to put it right by improving water supplies and sanitation facilities and promoting safe hygiene practices.