P14418: B9 Power Generation for Better Water Maker
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Problem Definition

Table of Contents

Project Summary

Every 20 seconds another child dies from a preventable waterborne illness caused by poor quality water, sanitation and hygiene. B9 Plastics, a not-for-profit organization, manufacture the “Better Water Maker” (BWM); a human-powered water purification device. The BWM is designed as a hand-crank to provide the power to the UV-bulb in order to “clean” the water. Past RIT MSD projects had very similar needs and requirements but were not successful in developing a desirable product. Since the generator will be used mostly by women and children, it must be re-designed to reduce the user’s effort. It is our team’s goal to produce a prototype that provides the minimum power of 17W while making it fun and easy to use. By using proven technology and off-the-shelf components, our team will provide a suitable product that ideally has the potential for mass production. The Better Water Maker produces gallons of sanitized water for pennies, which is exactly what people need in developing worlds. Systems were field tested in Africa, Haiti, Peru, Tibet, Nicaragua and Iraq. A hundred units now operate in 17 countries.

Customer Requirements (Needs)

Customer needs were identified by our first interview with the customer and were expanded and refined with each further contact.

Customer Need Category Importance Engineering Requirements Fulfilling
CN 1 The generator needs to maintain a minimum power to the unit. Efficiency 9 ER 2
CN 2 Use of the generator needs to not tire the user. Ergonomics 9 ER 7
CN 3 The new device can be no heavier than the current device. Portability 9 ER 8, ER 9
CN 4 The generator needs to be easily transportable. Portability 1 ER 3
CN 5 The device needs to stand up to consistent use. Durability 9 ER 11
CN 6 The device needs to be repairable. Simplicity 9 ER 11
CN 7 Manufacture of the device needs to minimize the use of specific tooling. Cost 9 ER 1, ER 5, ER 9, ER 10
CN 8 The generator needs to be inexpensive. Cost 9 ER 1
CN 9 The lifespan of the components needs to exceed that of the UV bulb. Durability 9 ER 11
CN 10 The generator needs to have a user/maintenance manual that is easy to interpret. Simplicity 9 ER 5, ER 9, ER 11
CN 11 The device needs to incorporate polymer components that can be or have been recycled. Sustainability 1 ER
CN 12 The generator needs to be safe for women and children to use. Safety 9 ER 7
CN 13 The generator needs to be fun to use. Ergonomics 3 ER 7
CN 14 The generator needs to connect to the existing BWM via common car adapter. Simplicity 9 ER 2
CN 15 The generator needs to protect itself and the BWM components from damage. Durability 9 ER 11
CN 16 The device needs to be easy to set up/install. Simplicity 9 ER 4, ER 5, ER 8, ER 9, ER 11
CN 17 The power generation needs to be reliable. Reliability 9 ER 2

Engineering Requirements (Specifications)

Function Importance Units Goal Value Customer Needs Fulfilled
ER1 Cost 9 USD 150 CN 7, CN 8
ER2 Generated Power 9 W, V 24, 12 CN 1, CN 14, CN 17
ER3 Shipping Size 3 ft3 CN 4
ER4 Training Time 3 min 10 CN 16
ER5 Ease of Repair 3 min 30 CN 7, CN 10, CN 16
ER6 Flow Rate Through System 9 gpm 2
ER7 Effort Required 9 Calories/gallon <9 CN 2, CN 12, CN 13
ER8 Weight 3 lb CN 3, CN 16
ER9 Number of Installers 3 People 1 CN 3, CN 7, CN 10, CN 16
ER10 Number of Tools 3 Tools CN 7
ER11 Unit Life 3 Gallons Treated >180,000 CN 5, CN 6, CN 9, CN 10, CN 15, CN 16
ER12 Leg Length 3 inches 21.6 to 37.0 CN 12, CN 17

House of Quality

From our House of Quality we discover the top 4 most related Engineering Specifications to Customer Needs by relative weight were:

The completed HOQ can be viewed HERE.


Project Goals and Key Deliverables


Benchmarking for this project included searching for existing methods for collecting human-generated power. Examples that we investigated include hand-crank flashlights, pre-electricity sewing machines, and a light-up soccer ball.

However, we also researched the general climate of the countries expected to use the BWM and collected census data on heights in those countries.

Although we did not find anything that could simply be purchased and used for our project, we were able to rule out several ideas based on the output achieved by their market equivalents. Census data enabled us to make educated assumptions about the sizing of the end product and the heights it would have to accommodate.

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