Image credit: zeromasswater.com
When you think about areas of the world where people have limited access to clean water, I’m guessing hot, sunny, arid climates come to mind. In an interesting twist, a couple of innovations are using those exact conditions to create potable water.
First up is Zero Mass Water which harnesses the power of the sun to pull water vapor from the air using solar panel arrays. The electricity is stored in an integrated lithium-ion battery which is used to drive a cycle of condensation and evaporation that can produce up to 5 liters of water per day.
The harvested vapor is sterilized and turned into a liquid. Minerals are added to increase the water’s pH level and make it taste more like drinking water and a reservoir below the panels can store up to 30 liters.
In a Business Insider interview, Zero Mass Water’s CEO Cody Friesen explained that a two-panel array harvesting 5 liters of water daily is enough to hydrate an American family of three following National Institutes of Health’s recommended dietary reference intakes (DRI).
Sensors installed in the arrays track pH, temperature, water quality and humidity.
The devices branded Source are installed in eleven countries including Australia and the US. Notable projects include a refugee camp in Jordan, orphanage in Lebanon and a system in the Arizona desert to provide water to wild animals at night.
Similarly, Israeli-company Watergen builds atmospheric water generators (AWG) which dehumidify the air at industrial levels. The Company’s GENius technology generates 4 liters of drinking water per Kw compared to conventional air-conditioning technology that uses three times as much energy.
Ozone treatment is used to keep stored water fresh. The company manufactures a variety of systems, ranging from a home appliance producing up to 30 liters/day to a commercial grade water generator for individual buildings or enterprises that can produce up to 5000 liters/day.
Recently, Watergen’s technology was featured at the new US Embassy in Jerusalem, the 2018 World Cup soccer tournament in Russia and utilized by the American Red Cross and FEMA in response to hurricanes Harvey and Irma that hit Texas and Florida in 2017.
It seems that even where the sun shines brightest, human invention can pluck water out of the air.