According to MSNBC, only 23% of plastic water bottles that are consumed each year are recycled. While that may seem, at least, like an encouraging number, that means that as many as 38 billion plastic water bottles go to landfills every year. That’s why companies such as Fulton Innovation, a Michigan-based technology company, are spending resources on developing convenient, high-functioning water purifiers. In 2002, when Fulton decided to redesign its water purification system known as eSpring, it recognized that RFID could play a key role.
Fulton’s purification system utilizes a combination of ultraviolet light and a carbon filter to remove and/or destroy contaminants from tap water. For the redesign, the company wanted to introduce a wireless powering system that would enable the ultraviolet lamp within the purification system to be protected from water, thus increasing the product’s lifespan. In order to track the lamp’s usage and communicate to users when it should be changed, the company utilized RFID. The technology will also track the carbon filter element.
To do so, Fulton embedded each carbon filter unit and UV lamp with a passive 125 kHz tag, while an interrogator built into the purification system’s main control unit reads and encodes the tags with usage data. RFID works best for this data conveyance because the purification system does not allow for direct line of sight.
More than 1.5 million eSpring purification systems have been sold to date, in more than 36 countries. Thanks to RFID, plastic water bottle waste could soon become a thing of the past.