Coca-Cola recently announced plans to deploy Ekocenters in developing communities in Africa, Asia, Latin America and North America. These one-stop shops will offer clean water, power, internet, vaccines, cooked meals, and yes, coke products, in places where all of the above are scarce resources.
The Ekocenter business model is still in development, and its unclear what if anything Coke will charge for any of these benevolent services. Still, it’s encouraging to hear that each of the 1,500 and 2,000 planned Ekocenters will feature solar panels and a water purification system, and be operated by a woman.
The most important feature of the modular Ekocenter structure is the Slingshot water purification system. A lack of clean drinking water is directly linked to thousands of deaths in poor and rural communities each year. Providing a place in the center of town where residents can come to access clean water is a life-changing idea.
The Slingshot system—invented by DEKA R&D President Dean Kamen—uses vapor compression distillation (VCD) technology to turn any source of dirty water—river water, ocean water and even raw sewage—into safe, clean drinking water. According to Coca-Cola, the Slingshot can deliver approximately 800 liters of clean water daily at the hourly electricity cost of less than a standard handheld hair dryer (1kWh).
The protype Ekocenter, a modified shipping container building, sits in Heidelberg, South Africa. It has solar panels for power, a satellite dish for wireless communication, and Slingshot. The company claims that it will place between over 1,00 units in the form of Ekocenters or Slingshot water purification systems throughout the world by 2015.