10 November 2016, Fremont, California: The California Clean Tech Open, awarded the Merlin Eco Solutions portable water purifier a special prize today, citing it for “outstanding innovation that improves operational performance, productivity and efficiency, while working to solve our global water challenge”.
The California Clean Tech Open is a business plan competition, sponsored by the State of California, Silicon Valley venture capital companies, law firms that work in Silicon Valley, and by several large corporations (PG&E, IBM, Dow Chemical, Daikan (Japan) et al). This year, the final business plan judging was held in Fremont, Ca – literally across the street from the manufacturing plant of Tesla electric cars, and just down the road from Solar City world HQ.
The judges in the California Clean Tech Open have been doing this sort of “Clean Tech” competition for 10 years, in several categories. Green (i.e. sustainable and environmentally friendly) power generation and storage. Green transportation. Green buildings. Green water solutions. And so on. They have seen, and awarded, some of the most amazing and innovative technologies coming out of Silicon Valley.
That’s why this award is unique. The California Clean Tech Open judges have never before seen anything else like the Merlin Eco Solutions water purifier, at this price point ($1,350 for the base unit), at this productivity (1 gallon/minute), and at this performance (EPA classified “sterilized” water). All out of a backpack, which weighs less than 10 Kg (24 lbs). With the optional solar panels, the backpack essentially is a “clean water factory” for up to 2700 people per day – 500x cheaper per liter than purchasing or stockpiling bottled water.
In California, Merlin purifiers are being deployed as part of an Earthquake preparedness kit, which during an emergency, manufactures clean water for 500x cheaper per liter than stockpiling bottled water. In Flint, Michigan, Merlin purifiers are being used to clean the toxic Lead (and other metals), and the harmful pathogens, out of the contaminated Flint Muni water supply. Merlin purifiers are also used in Nepal, as part of earthquake relief, and in Kenya.
We are thrilled to receive this Award of Excellence from this prestigious competition!
On September 24th, 2016 Scott Mellema, Joe Novitsky and the Voyages of the Merlin team visited St Luke's New Life Center in Flint, and broadcast the event on Facebook Live. We spoke with Sister Carol Weber about the important role St. Luke's plays in the Flint Community, and checked in on the Merlin Water Purifier that the Merlin team installed there in March of 2016 as a direct result of your donor contributions to our GoFundMe campaign. Joe Novitski performed some maintenance on the system to make sure it was functioning at top efficiency, and explained what is happening to the Flint Water that makes it unfit for consumption, and how the Merlin Purifier treats the water to deliver clear, safe drinking water. He also gave a tour of how the installation at St. Luke's allows the one purifier to provide water for all of the center's kitchen functions, from cooking to ice production.
We've captured the live broadcast into a five part video series that is available on our Merlin YouTube site. Please visit our channel and subscribe to see future videos from Merlin as well! Thanks to you, our donors, and to the whole Merlin team, and of course to Sister Carol and her team for making such a big difference at St. Luke's in Flint. We are continuing to identify additional Flint locations to install purifiers, so stay tuned!
Merlin visits St. Luke's, Flint MI - part 1
Voyages of the Merlin visits with Sister Carol Weber at St. Lukes New Life Center in Flint Michigan to discuss the affects of the Flint Water Crisis, and to check on the Merlin Water Purifier we've installed to help.
Merlin visits St. Luke's, Flint MI - part 2
Scott and Joe Novitsky take a look at the Merlin Water Purifier, as Joe explains how it is working remove the various contaminants in the Flint Water.
Merlin visits St. Luke's, Flint MI - part 3
Scott talks with Sister Carol about how St. Luke's works to help the community during the Flint Water Crisis.
Merlin visits St. Luke's, Flint MI - part 4
Joe Novitsky demonstrates how the Merlin Water Purifier works and is deployed at St. Luke's, providing pure clean water & ice for the St. Luke's community.
Merlin visits St. Luke's, Flint MI - part 5
Scott, Joe & Sister Carol sit down for a Q & A session about the Merlin Water Purifier, St. Luke's and the Flint Water Crisis.
It’s been much too long since this blog was updated, but not because there wasn’t news! The Merlin team has been focusing all of their attention on the water crisis in Flint, Michigan. As many of you probably have seen in the national news, the source of Flint’s drinking water was switched from the Detroit River to the Flint River almost three years ago. The Flint River, long known as being polluted and toxic, was highly corrosive and began to leach lead from the lead pipes into residents’ drinking water. Almost immediately, people in Flint began experiencing brown, foul-smelling water coming from their taps. But this was the least of their problems. For over 18 months, Flint residents were kept in the dark about the real issue. When a local pediatrician began to see patients with rashes and hair loss, she began to test the children for lead and quickly sounded the alarm. At first government officials attacked this pediatrician and kept assuring the residents that the water was safe to drink. This was definitely not the case.
Lead is a dangerous neurotoxin whose affects, which include brain damage, learning disabilities, and behavioral issues, are not reversible. As the story began to hit the news, and government officials finally started to admit the problem, bottled water donations began pouring into Flint. We knew that this was a necessary first step, but not a long-term solution. Sending truckloads of bottled water, while initially very necessary, is not a sustainable, nor an environmentally sound fix to the problem. On top of the water crisis, Flint quickly began to have a plastic problem.
We knew we had the solution, but how could we help? To install one of our purifiers in every home in Flint was not something we could afford to do, even if we had all the additional resources (installers, parts, etc) in place. But we wanted to help in any way we could. In January of 2016, Lynn Shackelford started a GoFundMe page in an effort to get one of our purifiers into a shelter that served the Flint community. Her initial goal for the Merlin For Flint campaign was to raise the $1500 to purchase a purifier, and have it installed at a local shelter that provided meals to the community, primarily children. Having never used GoFundMe, Lynn thought she’s probably get family, and maybe a few friends, to make a donation. The response was tremendous. She was able to reach that first goal in less than a month. She decided that it was so successful that she’d keep it open and extend the goal another $1500 and raise funds for a second installation. In the meantime, Merlin vendors donated extra parts to build three more purifiers for Flint. Fluid Connections, Inc. donated extra solenoid valves, Unique Products donated connectors, tubing, back board, and assembly labor, and Commercial Water Distributing, LLC donated extra filters. With all that support, plus the local media attention in Grand Rapids, MI (WZZM Channel 13), the second goal was met even more quickly. To date, the Merlin For Flint campaign has raised almost $4800. This included large donations from two schools; one in Michigan (East Grand Rapids High School) and one in Ohio (BioMed Science Academy in Rootstown). In both cases, it was kids helping kids! We were amazed by the outpouring of support and generosity!
Our first purifier went to St. Mary’s church. They support a large Spanish-speaking population that was hard hit by the water crisis; none of the initial government warnings about lead that went out to Flint residents were in Spanish, so many were still unaware even after the information became public. They were struggling to provide the surrounding neighborhood with bottled water and saw our purifier as a way to provide water more efficiently. Joe Novitsky met with Father Zach and came up with a system that would store the purified water in a food grade storage tank outside of the rectory. So a suitable storage tank was found and ordered. In the meantime, Joe got to work testing the waters in various locations around the city, as well as the Flint River itself. He had to know exactly what was in the water in order to know how to get rid of it.
Luckily, our purifiers are customizable for just about any water issue. (If you’d like to review all of the official test results in Flint, check them out. Joe made some design changes to the purifier in order to accommodate a large lead filter. He also constructed the wooden platform for the storage tank. St. Mary’s Church is able to provide clean, lead-free water on demand from this storage tank. With the extra donations from GoFundMe, Merlin Eco Solutions was able to supply St. Mary’s with 200 food-safe collapsible 5 gallon jugs for residents.
Scott Mellema and Megan Shackelford from Voyages of the Merlin came to Flint to talk to Father Zach, Joe Novitsky some of our vendors, and volunteer installers to see how the purifier was working. Scott was deeply moved by the severity of the crisis in Flint, and all of the volunteers who were working long hours to help those most affected by the toxic water. He was pleased to see that our purifier, which was born out of a need for the cast and crew of his series, was helping so many people in this Flint neighborhood. He spoke with father Zach about how the purifier helped him meet the needs of the surrounding neighborhood. Scott and Megan visited another nearby church where volunteers were being trained to go out into the surrounding neighborhoods to assess the needs of each household and provide immediate assistance. The two Merlin voyagers also took a walk down to the Flint River and discussed why the switch to this body of water caused all the suffering. The two hope to return to Flint in the future to provide an update on a future episode of Voyages of the Merlin.
DRINKING WATER AND ICE MAKER
The second Flint location to receive a Merlin Eco Solutions purification system was St Lukes, a shelter for battered women and children. Sister Carol and her staff at St. Lukes serve over 2000 meals a week. Imagine doing that without the use of your tap water! But this was exactly what they were doing, and it was not an easy feat. Because St. Lukes was not going to serve as a water distribution site (as St. Mary’s install had been designed to do), our task was different. Rather than installing at a basement utility sink, Joe Novitsky designed St. Luke’s system to be accessible in their large commercial kitchen. As shown in the following photographs, black tubing was attached from the sink to the purification system. Clean water flows from the Merlin Eco Solutions system through blue tubing. Extra donations to the GoFundMe campaign allowed us to purchase another food-grade storage tank (smaller than St. Mary’s and kept indoors near the system). The system also fed clean, lead-free water to their ice machine and coffee maker. Sister Carol and her staff were able to do away with all those blue water jugs (see above) and get back to concentrating on their mission and not their leaded tap water problem.
We continue to monitor these systems and test the water coming from them to ensure they are providing safe drinking water. Joe visits the sites regularly and is ordering extra filters for both systems. The systems continue to meet our high expectations and are functioning beautifully. We are so pleased that we were able to help. A big thank you goes out to all of our vendors, our volunteer installers, and everyone who donated to the Merlin For Flint campaign. As of this writing, the situation in Flint is still not good. The tap water in Flint (without our purifier) continues to show extremely unsafe levels of lead and other toxins, despite the switch back to Detroit River water. This crisis is not over, nor will it be any time soon. While our Merlin For Flint campaign has ended, there are still two units that were built with donations from the campaign. We continue to search for another suitable and willing site for those units. If you know of a location that would like one of our systems, please contact us. Our goal is maximum good – an ideal site would be one that serves a large portion of the surrounding population, and provide for children (such as a shelter for families/children, youth group homes, preschools or daycare centers, or community centers).
Welcome to the Merlin Eco Solution website! We're really excited to share our mission with you. We hope you'll continue to return to this site not only for your water purification needs, but also to hear the latest news of how our efforts are helping people obtain clean drinking water all over the world. We'll also be talking about how Merlin Eco Solutions fits into our broader Merlin Mission with our series "Voyages of the Merlin" still in development. We've come a long way in the few years that Merlin Eco and Voyages of the Merlin got started, so I wanted to go back to the beginning to tell the story of how we came to be. So I sat down with Charles J. Chervenka, Co-Owner and Director of Production of Merlin Eco Solutions and Executive Producer of Voyages of the Merlin. The Merlin mission started with an idea he came up with during a vacation in northern Michigan. I asked him to tell the tale.
"Almost 10 years ago I agreed to vacation in Harbor Springs with my wife. I resisted this for a number of years because she loves to shop and I knew that I would wind up following her around. When she shops she looks at everything, touches most everything, buys almost nothing and is content to do this
So you have this idea. What happened after the shopping trip?
"I had just met Joe Novitsky. We were both a victim of a commercial real estate scam and misery does love company. Anyway, the idea of the Merlin fired up Joe and the ideas started flying. We wanted the Merlin to be as green as possible so we looked into propulsion systems, solar generators, etc.. Instead of carrying bottled water aboard the boat, Joe started considering what it would take to purify the river water on which the Merlin would be traveling."
Seems like a good idea. How did the purifier go from idea to reality?
"After much testing, burning out at least 200 electric pumps and fiddling with uncounted filters and UV boxes, Joe came up with what would become the production model of the Merlin Eco Solutions water purifier."
So how does this all tie together? The purifier, the series, the mission?
"With this purifier we hope to provide clean water at a reasonable expense to people in need around the globe. Profits from the sale of the water purifier will be used to finally launch the Voyages of the Merlin. Voyages of the Merlin is our series that will educate, entertain and inspire people to care for our waterways. We also will launch another new product, namely our wind/solar/hydro generator."
It all sounds really promising and exciting!
"Where we go from here is anybody's guess, but whatever we come up with will be in response to the needs of others and will be as green as we can possibly make it."
John Novitsky (CEO/Marketing Director) recently made a visit with his family to visit the Masai.
The gentleman in the robes is the son of the Chief of the Masai tribe in Eastern Africa. The Masai currently have a well that is over 300 ft. deep and is poisoned with nitrates. The Merlin water purifier will be heading to Africa on 10/1 for a before and after test, which will show that the Merlin can remove those nitrates so the tribe can actually drink the water.
20% of Africa has this problem.