Element15 has four principles that guides us in the way we do business:

  • Include all - Element15 is convinced that safe drinking water should be available for all and is therefore determined to reach everybody, regardless of their background or financial situation


  • Grow together - Element15 works together with local people and businesses in the area where the systems are being deployed to stimulate local growth

  • Do right - Element15 demands that all persons and entities involved in its projects will be treated with respect and that everyone does the right thing for people and planet in any situation

  • Optimize impact - Element15  aims to maximize the positive impact it makes with its project, beyond the provision of safe drinking water. This positive impact is measured in accordance with the Sustainable Development Goals (UN)

Our history

In 2017, Element15 was founded by Ingmar Barendregt to reclaim valuable minerals and other components from urine. The main driver behind this idea is that urine contains phosphorus, which is a critical component in fertilizer. As the global phosphate resources are depleting rapidly, it would be very useful to start recycling urine and reclaiming phosphorus. The fifteenth element in the periodic table of elements is phosphorus, which is how Element15 got its name. Unfortunately, since current urine recycling technologies would lead to much higher costs than benefits, the idea was put on hold.

On 28 September 2018, Sulawesi was hit by an earthquake and tsunami. Humanitarian organizations responded quickly to provide aid, with a lack of clean drinking water being among the most pressing issues. Since urine for 95% consists out of water, Element15 started developing a device that is capable of reclaiming water from urine to be used in disaster areas. After two years of development, the device turned out to be way too complex to fully remove all the urea from urine, and therefore found unpractical as a disaster response aid. The test setup however was the foundation of the development of 〖"BAR the filter backpack. 

In many areas in the world, the main source of drinking water remains surface water and boreholes. Water coming from these sources often contains high amounts of bacteria, parasites, and viruses. These could lead to severe illnesses, such as diarrhoeal disease and cholera, that can be fatal, especially for children. Diarrhoeal disease results in more than 500.000 child deaths globally, each year (UNICEF, 2013).

In 2020, Element15 started to develop BAR, a passive water filtration system that purifies drinking water and significantly reduces the amount of bacteria, parasites, and viruses. BAR is powered by a treadle pump, meaning that no electricity or petrol is required to operate the system. The treadle pump has the additional advantage that it can be used for irrigation purposes due to its high flow-rate. This makes the system ideal for small communities and small scale farmers to improve their food security and have safer drinking water.

This timeline depicts the three different stages of the history of Element15

The founder


Element15 is founded by Ingmar Barendregt, who has built the company since 2017. Over the years, Element15 has been performing extensive research and tests to progressively optimize the design and functionality of BAR. His background in Aerospace Engineering from the ETH Zürich has strongly helped him in this process. At the end of December 2022, Ingmar resigned from his job as manager in the consulting department at PwC to fully focus on Element15: 


“Working on technical challenges has always been my passion. Over the last couple of years, I realized that using my technical expertise to help people in stressful situations, gives a great amount of fulfillment in my live. Especially the demonstration of BAR in Namibia in 2022 was a tremendously exciting experience and made me decide to quit my job to fully dedicate myself to Element15. 


In the upcoming period, I will do everything in my power to provide more and more people with BARs and, doing so, securing a sustainable supply of safe and affordable drinking water for them. Ultimately my goal is to grow Element15 into a multidisciplinary humanitarian engineering company that helps to tackle todays and tomorrow's challenges. In simpler wording: I want to become The Thunderbirds of humanitarian engineering.” 


Ingmar Barendregt 

Founder Element15