UF Engineers Bring Clean Water from the Classroom to the Community
A steamy, hot shower after a stressful day, a gulp of icy cold water after a long midday jog in the summer heat, a soothing cup of tea while snuggled up in bed.
Clean, safe, flowing water pours so effortlessly from our faucets each day that it’s easy to forget what a precious resource it is.
With 780 million people lacking access to safe drinking water worldwide and 2,000 children dying from waterborne illness every day, the global water crisis is real and deeply disturbing.
Three Gainesville engineers are on a mission to change that.
Co-founders Daniel Blood, Robert Damitz and Erica Gonzaga have created a powerful water bottle named aqUV that uses UV treatment to kill bacteria, viruses and other pathogens. aqUV is a self-cleaning bottle that’s wirelessly powered, fully waterproof and easily portable. (Not to mention, it’s a damn good-looking product.)
Damitz had previously done work in water treatment for the military, Blood had done a lot of charitable work in Haiti, Kenya and Nicaragua, and Erica Gonzaga was doing university research in water treatment. Their three different backgrounds coalesced during a school project in an entrepreneurship for engineering class at UF. Their idea morphed from a self-cleaning UV toilet seat, to a water bottle that tackled a much bigger global problem: clean water.
“What really inspires me is trying to come up with solutions that really make an impact in the world, or research things that really make an impact in the world,” said Damitz. “Clean water is where I think we can make the biggest impact right now.”
The aqUV team wants their bottles to have widespread appeal. While the bottles will typically be developed for people in developing nations with few resources or people in disaster situations, they hope to provide value to outdoorsmen and travelers as well.
“If you’re out camping or hiking for multiple days, you want to be able to drink the water from the streams, but you want to also make sure that you won’t get sick,” said Damitz. “The same is true if you are travelling overseas and they say not to drink the tap water because there is bacteria in the water.”
To get an aqUV bottle in the hands of everyone who needs one, both hikers and families in need, the team dove headfirst into fundraising. Their newly-launched Kickstarter campaign shares the backstory, hopes, dreams and vibrant future of aqUV. Damitz hopes the Gainesville community will step up and support in any way they can.
“This is Gator engineering, Gator innovation and it actually spurned out of a University of Florida class. We are three Gator engineers trying to make a difference in the world, start a company and get this up and running. Help a few Gainesville originals.”