CAFE water filter prototype by Clean Water Wave and Dryden Aqua

CAFE Filter by Clean Water Wave

The CAFE water filter (Clean Aqua For Everyone) can provide safe drinking water for a community of 1000 people. It’s designed to work in extreme environments, and keep on working for 30+ years without maintenance. It doesn’t need mains electricity or require technical knowledge to operate it. And it’s so efficient that it can be deployed in rural communities in developing countries without financial subsidies.

CAFE filter is the first prototype from Clean Water Wave, an Edinburgh based social enterprise founded by Dr. Stephanie Terrani Brown and Dr Howard Dryden. Steph has extensive experience in the cultural and practical aspects of implementing sanitation and hygiene in developing countries. Howard is the inventor of a world leading filter technology.

The filter membrane is manufactured by Dryden Aqua, who provide advanced water filtration solutions for large scale municipal applications around the world. Their technology was originally developed for water filters in marine aquariums – providing drinkable water for people is actually much simpler, even when you need to remove heavy metals such as arsenic.

Photographing this prototype was an amusing challenge. The filter is over four metres high and really heavy, and it’s currently situated in a dark corner of the Dryden Aqua factory. Everything in the factory is covered in glass dust, and there wasn’t enough space to take a photo without using a fisheye lens.

After a considerable amount of faffing around with a ladder on a balcony I gave up looking for an angle to capture it in one frame, and just shot the top half and bottom half separately then merged it into one image. Some judicious use of Photoshop removed enough dust and marks to make everything look presentable, then I cut around the outline to simplify it, and remove some extra pipes and clamps that had been temporarily attached during testing.

This ghetto approach to product photography isn’t really best practise, but I think it suits the ‘Death Star meets Lord Buckethead’ aesthetic of the prototype. Presumably the next version will have less bits stuck to it, and look more like a product and less like an invention. However it’s important to have a photo of the original, just to show people that it exists. Every project starts as an idea – it’s nice to have an image showing when that idea first became a reality.

I always enjoy working with entrepreneurs, especially ambitious projects like this. If you are interested in working together please feel free to get in touch and see how I can help.


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