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Durham University

Department of Chemistry

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Phil Souter's life saving innovation wins Economist award

(19 November 2012)

Phil Souter (left) with John Evans

Congratulations to one of our visiting Professors, Phil Souter from P&G, on winning the 2012 Economist Innovation Award for Social and Economic Innovation for the “P&G Pure Water” product for producing safe drinking water. Phil was presented with the award along with Greg Allgood of P&G at a ceremony at BAFTA on Thursday 15th November. 

Phil’s idea for "P&G Pure Water" came after he’d been working on chemical products to allow water recirculation in washing machine applications. He rapidly realised that the same chemistry could be adapted to purify drinking water, which led to the product. P&G now distribute the product as a small sachet that can be added to dirty water to remove bacteria, viruses and pollutants such as arsenate. One small 7p sachet will purify 10 litres of water in 15 minutes, providing people with safe drinking water for under 2p a day. "P&G Pure Water" is distributed by P&G on a not for profit basis and is now shipped all round the world.

Since P&G Pure Water was launched enough has been distributed to clean almost 5.5 billion gallons of water and the product is estimated to have prevented 200 million days of disease and saved more than 26,000 lives.

Phil is currently co-supervising several PhD students in Chemistry under our collaborative CEMENT/SMC3 project, and also advises the Department on our undergraduate curriculum from an industrial perspective.

It’s a wonderful story of how relatively simple chemistry can have enormous effect on peoples’ lives.

Congratulations Phil!

Read more details or watch the awards ceremony on line at: