Aquaduct by IDEO


Design Indaba 08: IDEO cofounder Bill Moggridge presented this concept tricycle that purifies water as the rider pedals, at the Design Indaba conference in Cape Town last month.

Called Aquaduct, it was developed to help people in the developing world who have to make long journeys to collect water, which is often unsafe to drink.

The tricycle has a large water tank mounted over the rear axles. Pedalling draws water through a filter to a second, removable, tank mounted in front of the handlebars.

Aquaduct was developed for the Innovate or Die competition organised by bicycle manufacturers Specialized, and won first prize. Watch a video about the trike here.

The designers who worked on the project were Adam Mack, John Lai, Eleanor Morgan, Paul Silberschatz and Brian Mason. Photographs here are by Nicolas Zurcher.

The following information is from Ideo:


The Aquaduct is a pedal powered concept vehicle that transports, filters, and stores water for the developing world. The functional model was designed and constructed over a three week period for the Innovate or Die contest hosted by Google and Specialized.

The vehicle seeks to address the two main challenges with water in the developing world: sanitation and transportation. Water-related diseases kill thousands of people each day. Moreover, water sources can be miles away from the home, and women must walk these distances carrying heavy water vessels. The Aquaduct is designed to allow a person to sanitize and transport water simultaneously.

As the rider pedals, a pump attached to the pedal crank draws water from a large tank, through a carbon filter, to a smaller clean tank. A clutch engages and disengages the drive belt from the pedal crank, enabling the rider to filter the water while traveling or while stationary. The clean tank is removable and closed for contamination-free home storage and use.

The entry placed first in the contest and the $5000 prize money will be donated to Kickstart, a company focused on water solutions for the developing world. Two of the sponsors of the contest, Specialized and Goodby Silverstein & Partners, matched the donation to total a $15,000 impact.

Posted on Tuesday March 11th 2008 at 4:53 pm by . Copyright policy | Comments policy

  • It’s great to see a bicycle that transports water, but at the end of the journey you have a large amount of dirty water and a small amount of clean water? How about a transport bicycle and a separate water purifier that uses gravity to run the water through a filter? I’m not so sure about the combination…

  • zuy

    sodis or solar system by meda and co are better solutions.

  • zuy
  • Seth

    Looks interesting. How much does it cost? I can imagine people paying money to have clean water to drink, but I have a hard time imagining they’ll pay to make their daughters’ morning water-collecting easier. How well does it work as a general bicycle? It’ll inevitably be used for that too.

    My favorite water purifying method is the Potters for Peace filters. They’re made locally in >20 countries, and retail for $10-15 (when not subsidized):
    -their site:
    -2nd video on the page:

  • stu

    isn’t this a bit ridiculous? a bike with 2 wheels will be far easier to ride, faster, more efficient and cheaper to make. balancing the water will be no more difficult than balancing yourself. and how is someone in a “developing nation” supposed to maintain a big plastic bulb of nonsense. why not tow the donut someone released a while ago? or fill the frame hollows with water? i used to like you IDEO….

    • tess jr

      as a pedicab operator i must cite the elegance of a 3 wheelr (especially while still) + this beauty of a spout where a light usually is.

  • Wiliam

    How about a bike that makes beer…now that would be progress…!!!

  • zuy

    do you knox solex ? it’s difficult to drive…

  • zuy

    please ask fukasawa to come back !

  • We can all play nice–anything that brings clean water home is a good thing, although this seems like an expensive solution. Filtration is still critical for surface water, whether hauled long or short. The problem we really have to answer is how to get water where it’s needed without human beings having to break themselves hauling it.

  • paul

    interesting idea, poorly executed and thought out…

  • hmmm – hope they have nice tarmac roads and can afford new tyres etc…

  • It never ceases to amaze me that people waste time and money on designing an expensive item supposed to be for 4th world level benefit, yet completely inaccessible and therefor impractical for the targeted market. How much does this tricycle cost? I DO know that $15,000 would be enough to dig six wells in Africa in places that need it.