Students at United Arab Emirates University (UAEU) are looking to bring a new dimension to drinking water and help to transform lives around the world – with a little help from Mother Nature.
Drawn from diverse backgrounds, the team aims to capitalize on a discovery that stemmed from a stone in a fishpond by developing a “natural technology” process that can create an ultra-healthy brand of water – the proceeds of which will contribute towards improving water quality for some of the world’s most needy societies.
Their startup, ZEOPI – which is currently being incubated at UAEU’s Science and Innovation Park - has been set up in recognition of the world’s struggle to find adequate sources of fresh, drinkable water, the hundreds of millions of people who do not have access to clean water, and the fact that 6-8 million people are estimated to die every year because of water-related diseases.
As UAEU physics student and ZEOPI team leader Baraa Ahmed, 20, explains: “Our project entails making the undrinkable to be drinkable with a very high standard, since most of the water that we drink is unmineralised.
“The water we want to provide through ZEOPI is intended to be full of minerals, of high-quality, eco-friendly, and extremely healthy, capable of addressing kidney issues and other diseases that can result from the water many people drink. It contains the most important minerals that the human body needs.”
The essential element of the ZEOPI project is natural stone, and having the technological knowledge to transform a facet of nature into a product that can have widespread social and health benefit.
Baraa said: “We came up with this idea by accident – one of our team noticed that when a particular stone was placed in a fish pool, the waste and dirt in that pool disappeared after some time and the water became crystal clear.
“We did a lot of research about this stone and how it affects the water in terms of minerals, toxins, metals and other aspects, and now we are testing the concept with the goal of producing drinkable water of a very high standard.”
The ZEOPI team – which also includes UAEU urban planning student Asma Abdulla, 21, and Bulgarian entrepreneur and investor Iskren Krusteff – hopes that, as well as introducing a new innovation, their product will have a positive impact on social awareness and behavior.
“Our aim is to help in providing clean, drinkable water for the next generation,” said Baraa. “And we believe our product will benefit everyone who decides to buy it, not only because it will provide them with something that is a daily need, but because it will give them the opportunity to change – and even save – the lives of millions of people around the world.”
That is because, as Baraa outlines, buying the ZEOPI product will mean making a contribution to increasing accessibility to drinkable water for communities worldwide, through its donation program. “We have a lot of love for this project, and we believe this will affect consumers in a positive way,” she said.
“In the UAE, we hope to provide the best water for our country, and therefore giving something back for everything we have received. At a global level, we want to help change the world, prevent people having to drink poor-quality water, and give them the best and the healthiest water possible.”