The Puffer: Providing clean water for coastal communities
Septian Suryo, a Leaders in Innovation Fellowships (LIF) alumnus from Indonesia, is the CEO of Water Systems Services which has developed the Puffer, a hybrid water and wastewater treatment device providing clean water for remote and coastal communities.
We interviewed him on the impact of his innovation and his next steps for the Puffer:
What is your innovation?
The Puffer is a fast, compact machine that filters and purifies sea water to provide clean water to coastal communities. It can also treat contaminated water sources and recycle domestic wastewater. It is easily operated, and because of its hybrid interlock system technology it is more efficient and cheaper to run than alternative technologies. Puffer is equipped with automation and control systems compatible with smartphones so you can directly evaluate the performance. Data can be stored in the Cloud, and the quality of the water produced is guaranteed according to national standards.
How did your innovation come about?
In September 2018, a 7.5 magnitude earthquake followed by tsunamis up to six-metres high hit Palu, Sigi and Donggala in Indonesia, killing over 4,000 people and destroying more than 70,000 homes. There was significant damage to local roads and public facilities, including local water treatment and distribution infrastructure, and water sources were polluted due to flooding, which made it difficult to provide clean water to affected areas and refugees. The Indonesian Ministry of Industry invited me to help design and implement a system to solve the need for clean water. They wanted a mobile water treatment device capable of moving in difficult terrain and hard-to-reach disaster areas.
What impact is Puffer having in Indonesia?
We focus on meeting people's water needs according to the conditions and capabilities of their communities.
The Puffer machine that we have developed can help remote and rural communities who have difficulty getting access to clean water. Many water sources in remote areas are contaminated with coliform bacteria and this increases the incidence of diarrhoea and other water-borne diseases. Puffer sets quality standards for clean water and drinking water in accordance with government regulations. In the long term, good quality drinking water will improve the quality of public health.
Communities can also create business units for water processing, and some are selling purified water to other people who need it. This creates employment opportunities and increases the income of local communities.
The Puffer water treatment unit is operating in the disaster area of Palu City. We have collaborated with local organisations PAMSIMAS (Community-Based Water Supply and Sanitation) and BUMDES (Village-owned Business Entities) to provide drinking water to around 300 families (1,200 people) every day in areas affected by the earthquake, tsunami and liquefaction.
What’s next for Puffer?
We are in an exciting stage of growth and expansion. We have already sold the system to several customers, and we are focussing on increasing these numbers.
We are currently designing a recycling domestic wastewater system for a wheat flour company and an animal feed company with a capacity of 20 cubic litres a day. We are also looking at uses in agriculture, potentially irrigating hundreds of thousands of hectares of rice fields with recycled domestic wastewater and polluted water, minimizing crop failures due to drought disasters and preserving ground water reserves.
We are collecting data from several pilot projects to analyse the performance of our devices, as proof of our system’s effectiveness to convince investors to collaborate on bigger projects, including civil infrastructure and building installations. The business model that we offer requires a considerable cost because consumers don't pay up-front, therefore we need capital investment support to achieve our goals. One of our aims is to go public in 2025 after expanding our market share.
How has the LIF programme impacted your business?
LIF has given me the insight to look for existing opportunities to develop Puffer System. I received a lot of advice and ideas from my mentor regarding my business model. He helped me consider franchising the system or licensing it to other companies. He helped us to define milestones and we are working on implementing them.
The training was very helpful for improving my skill in pitching to investors, making powerful presentations and explaining our business model to customers. I have pitched twice to local investors and I am happy to be able to pitch with confidence in front of them.
To learn more about Puffer please visit www.pufferpurewater.com or follow them on Twitter @pufferpurewater.