Today’s researchers are taking moisture from the air to have clean water, and they’re succeeding.
Despite humans’ absolute need for the resource, clean water is a commodity. Plastic water bottles continue to create mountains of waste in landfills, and our water bills continue to rise. But Flint, Michigan’s ongoing state of emergency over the quality of its water has given the residents of the U.S. a glimpse into what many developing countries still deal with: a shortage of clean water.
With the resources available today, this should no longer be an issue. Many would go a step further and say water should not be a commodity: it is a basic human right, just like air. Although it’s unlikely that the price of water will change in the future, how people collect water is evolving towards a few incredibly innovative solutions.
Zero Mass Water
Democratizing drinking water is Zero Mass Water’s goal for its product, Source. It’s outward appearance is nothing more than a solar panel resting on a metal box. Using sunlight and its ability to produce electricity and heat allows this invention to catch the humidity in the air.
There’s a lot of secrecy around what materials are used and how they are engineered, but it works. Company CEO and Associate Professor Materials Science & Engineering at Arizona State University Cody Friesen stated that one Source device can harvest five liters of water a day, no matter the climate.
An underground storage chamber also can store up to 30 liters once the water is collected.
“When you’re making solar energy, you have to use it or lose it unless you have a battery,” Friesen said. “In our case, we’re storing solar energy in a glass.”
It also produces clean water that’s good enough to drink. The Water Generator can run on solar power or AC and can produce an impressive 40 to 100 gallons a day. Through a cycle of absorption, extraction, and remineralization, SunToWater’s device works a lot like a large-scale dehumidifier, pulling water from the air and storing it for consumption.
It’s also the winner of the Silicon Valley Impact Challenge and the Founder Showcase Competition, meaning we’ll likely see much more of this product, especially in suburbia, in the near future.
You probably won’t see a lot of Warka Water structures in your typical U.S. city, but it could change the lives of thousands in developing countries.
Italian designer Arturo Vittori and his team created a water-catchment system that can produce potable water. Dew, rain, and mist are harvested in this unique tower structure that is made of all-natural materials and is portable.
The structure relies on gravity, condensation, and evaporation to generate clean water without the need for electrical power. This bamboo frame, recyclable mesh, and rope structure can be assembled for about $1,000—much less than other water relief options—and can be built by six people in about four days.
Trials are still ongoing, but Vittori and his team believe this hive-like structure could be the answer to providing clean water for communities all throughout the developing world.