The final shipment of solar-powered water purification systems from SPX Global will arrive in Iraq in about a week, bringing the total number of received units to 325.
SPX Global, a San Diego company that just opened in the spring, completed its first contract with the Ministry of Municipalities and Public Works in Iraq just in time for the annual cholera season.
“We’re providing clean water when they need it to fight cholera in Iraq,” said Cory Cunningham, president and chief operating officer of SPX Global. “This time of year, because of run-off factors, they get outbreaks of cholera in Iraq.”
Each unit is attached to a trailer and can be deployed quickly and easily. Every Iraqi province will have at least one unit to provide clean water and prevent illness this season.
Combined, the 325 SPX Tracker Ultra Filtration (UF) systems can purify 1.8 million gallons of surface water each day. That translates to fresh drinking water for 600,000 Iraqis, Cunningham said.
Over the course of its lifecycle, the units will produce water at an average of $0.03 per person each day.
“The beautiful thing about this is it’s truly sustainable in the fact that it’s economically sustainable,” Cunningham said. “It’s truly solving a problem in an economical manner.”
The SPX system removes the solids from the water and uses ultraviolet rays to kill bacteria.
Unlike other filtration systems, this one uses solar panels that follow the sunlight to maximize the amount of energy available in a day. There is a back-up battery for the attachments, but the pump itself runs exclusively on solar power.
Cunningham said the company is waiting on another contract with Iraq for 100 to 150 additional units.
While the SPX Tracker UF will help prevent cholera outbreaks, there still is room for improvement.
Cunningham said the company is working on another model that would use reverse osmosis to purify the water.
With reverse osmosis, the water would taste like bottled water. The ultra filtration system tastes more like the tap water available in San Diego, Cunningham said.
“There’s no taste, no odor,” he said about the reverse osmosis system. “You’re going to get a little bit of taste and some of the dissolved organics and minerals in your ultra filtration water.
“The important thing is it removes all the bacteria -- all the harmful things.”
But Cunningham has bigger goals than just helping Iraq fight a cholera outbreak.
He wants to bring clean water to nations in need. Working with nonprofit organizations, Cunningham hopes to bring SPX Global’s products to different parts of the world.
And clean water could help bring peace. Cunningham said a military leader told him that the next big wars in Africa will be fought for clean water, not oil.
If Cunningham can help make clean water more accessible in Africa and beyond, he believes he can help prevent some of those wars.
SPX Global is working on another product for Iraq that would provide water for agricultural purposes. Its use will help the people and help Cunningham reach his goal.
“You’re talking about two things -- a healthier society through clean water and the ability to rebuild a country,” he said. “So if they can actually turn and grow agriculture in that area, it will be an amazing story.
“Now you will have a lot of these young men making a living … where before they didn’t have an option. They are the ones who get recruited by terrorists and other organizations to cause trouble.”
Send your comments to Erin.Bridges@sddt.com