Weighing less than 10kg, the suitcase-sized device can also be driven by a portable $50 solar panel. It automatically generates drinking water that exceeds World Health Organisation quality standards, needing only the push of just one button.

Unlike other portable desalination units that require water to pass through filters, the MIT device uses electrical power to remove particles water.

Eliminating the need for replacement filters greatly reduces the long-term maintenance requirements, the developers said.