Skip to content
Thomson Reuters
Executive Perspectives

EXECUTIVE PERSPECTIVE: Sustainable Innovation for the World, Desolenator

This brief interview is part of Sustainable Innovation for the World, a series Thomson Reuters Sustainability is producing on new innovation, either scientific or social, which could help make the world more sustainable.

Featured Innovation: Desolenator, by William Janssen, CEO & Inventor of the Desolenator technology

desolScreen Shot 2014-12-13 at 19.38.55

Sustainability: How does your innovation help the world?

William: The Desolenator technology is the most affordable and environmentally friendly method of water purification. It purifies water from any source using only the power of the sun and is very simple to operate.  Leading analysts predict that by 2025, over 3 billion people will live in water stress. We believe that the Desolenator can change that.

Sustainability: Why did you do it?

William: I’ve been living in Abu Dhabi for the last 5 years where almost all domestic water comes from seawater desalination plants, humongous fuel guzzling machines that burn large volumes of oil per day to boil and distil seawater. In fact, 0.7% of the worlds water comes from desalination costing us 0.5% of the worlds fossil fuel supply, which is clearly unsustainable if we are to significantly increase our access to water through desalination.  I thought about using both the heat and electric energy of a PV panel and using a heat exchanger to leverage the temperature differences throughout the process. Combining these elements together I saw the potential for an entirely new way of solar powered desalination on both a small and larger scale and in a way that can be off grid and de-centralised.

Sustainability:  How did you make an informed decision to invest so much of your time and life in this?

William: When you go through the process of developing and experimenting with new ideas and end up with something that can really make a difference- you want to follow through and see where it ends. It takes time and requires a huge amount of effort, but I believe we’re finally seeing the fruits of our work. This year we’ve really experienced a lot of support and interest from organisations, politicians, and investors and most recently from the wider public- through our crowd funding campaign.

Sustainability: What is your next big step?

William: The next big step will be to get our first product ready for market. We’ve developed a small unit- about the size of a flat screen TV- that produces enough water for a family of 5. We’re pre selling these through our crowd funding campaign at $450 and are also offering the public an opportunity to ‘gift’ a unit to a family in India through our partner NGO. Once we have the first household unit in the market we will start developing a larger system based on the same technology that will produce 1,000 litres of water per day.

For more information, please see:

BBC interview

Product and Funding (Desolenator on Indiegogo)

EXECUTIVE PERSPECTIVE: The promise of innovation EXECUTIVE PERSPECTIVE: Can everyone have access to safe drinking water by 2030? EXECUTIVE PERSPECTIVE: Private Equity for Sustainable Development EXECUTIVE PERSPECTIVE: A digital ecosystem for the environment EXECUTIVE PERSPECTIVE: Accelerating Green Banking in the Greater Middle East EXECUTIVE PERSPECTIVE: Caring About More Than Jobs EXECUTIVE PERSPECTIVE: Corporate Sustainability Strategy Starts with Employee Health EXECUTIVE PERSPECTIVE: Growing sustainable lending EXECUTIVE PERSPECTIVE: Transparency, the foundation to any solution for climate EXECUTIVE PERSPECTIVE: How green can a building be?