Ancient water harvesting structure utilizing condensation, Trans-en-Provence, France.
An air well collects water by promoting the condensation of moisture from the air. Evidence of air wells has been found in the Byzantine city of Theodosia, and there are three methods that have been used to create the condensation necessary for the production of useful quantities of water. High mass collectors are air wells that use the benefit of constructions with a thermal mass to create temperature variation suitable for the production of condensation.
High mass wells are the oldest and simplest form of air wells. Radiative air wells use panels heated by sunlight to create condensation, and active collection air wells use heat pumps to remove moisture actively from air, similar to the way a dehumidifier functions. Active collection wells are energy intensive, however there is ongoing research into creating more efficient active air wells to harvest water from the air.
Self-Filling Water Bottle Concept Harvests H20 From Air
Did you know that there are more than three quadrillion gallons of water just floating around in the air? Climate change has made it abundantly clear that water will become an even more precious resource in the coming decades. Although the freshwater rivers and lakes from which we source drinking water may dry up, scientists hope that advanced technology will allow them to harvest this atmospheric water as a new supply.
We’ve already reported on a wind turbine concept that plucks water from desert air [see below], but that’s hardly a practical investment for your average individual. Now, new developments from a company called NBD Nano suggests this technology may be in our hands sooner than previously thought. The company has pioneered a water bottle that can refill itself with drinkable water harvested from the air.
Image via Muffet/Flickr
Like many of the most innovative clean tech companies, NBD Nano’s amazing water bottle concept was inspired by Mother Nature. The company’s founders noticed that the Namib Desert Beetle is able to thrive in the extremely dry environments because it’s capable of absorbing water from the air.
“Every morning this beetle climbs to the top of a sand dune, sticks its back to the wind, and drinks 12 percent of its weight in water,” said NBD cofounder Deckard Sorensen in an interview with PRI. “We use nanotechnology to mimic this beetle’s back so that we too can pull water from the air.” In the novel design, the water bottle’s surface is coated with hydrophilic and hydrophobic coatings, and then a fan is used to pass air over the surface. The water condenses on the surface and, eventually, the water bottle refills itself. The design could operate using a rechargeable battery or solar cell to speed-up accumulation and filter the water.
Obviously, this technology could have a huge impact, especially in developing nations where other types of water filtration are hampered by a lack of infrastructure. NBD hopes to bring this off-grid water bottle to market by 2014.
Wind turbine creates water from thin air
By Eoghan Macguire
Water from thin air
Wind turbines have long produced renewable energy but a French engineering firm has discovered another eco-purpose for the towering structures.
The company aims to start rolling out the giant products for sale later in 2012, initially focusing on remote communities in arid countries where water resources are scarce.
“This technology could enable rural areas to become self-sufficient in terms of water supply,” says Thibault Janin, director of marketing at Eole Water.
“As the design and capabilities develop, the next step will be to create turbines that can provide water for small cities or areas with denser populations,” he adds.
Eole Water is currently displaying a working prototype of the 24 meter tall WMS1000 in the desert near Abu Dhabi that has been able to produce 62 liters of water an hour, says Janin.
One turbine can produce up to 1,000 liters of water every day, depending on the level of humidity
He explains that the technology works by first generating electricity in the traditional manner of a wind turbine. This power enables the entire water generating system to function.
The next stage sees air sucked in through the nose of the turbine via a device known as an “air blower”.
All air trapped during this procedure is then directed through an electric cooling compressor situated behind the propellers. This contraption extracts humidity from the air, creating moisture which is condensed and collected.
The water gathered at this stage is then transferred down a series of stainless steel pipes, which have been specially modified to aid the water production process, to a storage tank in the base of the turbine.
Once there, the water is filtered and purified before it is ready for use and consumption.
One turbine can produce up to 1,000 liters of water every day, depending on the level of humidity, temperature and wind speeds, says Janin.
“This is enough to provide water for a village or town of 2,000 to 3,000 people,” he adds.
Janin highlights isolated communities in Africa and South America as well as remote islands in Asia that have little or no access to safe drinking water as potential beneficiaries of the technology.
“If you think of Indonesia, it has (thousands of) islands and they cannot centralize their water supply … the geographic makeup of the country makes it impossible,” says Janin.
“This technique could enable them to overcome these problems and make the islands self-sufficient in a way that doesn’t harm the environment.”
But while enthusiastic about the potential of his company’s technology, Janin admits that the initial costs of the turbines could be prohibitive, especially for poorer towns or regions.
Just now it costs between €500,000 ($660,000) and €600,000 ($790,000) depending on the location and surrounding conditions to install just one Eole Water turbine.
As time progresses and as an industrial process is developed that enables the company to take advantage of economies of scale, this outlay is likely to fall, says Janin.
“We have just started the commercial aspect of this product but the price is not that expensive when you compare it with the long term solution that it gives,” he adds.
Interesting ways to harvest water from air
Every life form present on this blue planet needs water for survival. That’s the reason we see environmentalists over the world encouraging individuals to save every drop, as those precious drops might be what someone is desperately in need for. Since many potable water sources are contaminated, there are some designers who’re looking toward humid air to quench the thirst of millions. Here are some of the best devices that harvest fresh water from thin air:
• Max Water:
An Australian inventor has developed a device that is capable of harvesting unlimited water from air. Powered by wind, the device uses the same source for water as well. Dubbed Max Water, the system according to the inventor would even harvest significant amounts of water using air with low humidity. A four-meter square device could extract an average 7,500 liters of water a day.
Developed by Element Four, the Watermill generates and then filters water so that what comes out of it is fit for consumption. The company promises that their device will be able to generate about 3.2 gallons of fresh drinking water a day in ideal conditions that should be enough for a family of six.
The Ersa by industrial designer Scott Norrie is designed as a standalone, sustainable product that uses solar energy to create water from air. The design also uses the onboard solar panels to power handheld devices and trickle-charge a vehicle’s battery.
The EcoloBlue Atmospheric Water Generator (AWG) provides you with up to 7 gallons of clean water each day, provided the air around you is humid. The company developing the product states that it works best at 50 percent humidity, but can also work in humidity levels as low as 30 percent. If, however, the air isn’t humid enough, you can always hook it up to a tap water source so your drinking water is still filtered. The EcoloBlue costs $1,350 and the average operating cost stands at just 20 cents for every gallon of clean water.
• RainCloud C-15:
Cleanworld Ltd. has developed the RainCloud system, which is a dehumidifier with a built-in water purification system. The device harvests potable water from humid air and can also heat or cool the water for you to either have a nice chilled glass of water or a cup of tea.
• Dew Drop:
Industrial designer Jacky Wu has designed the Dew Drop device that extracts water from thin air for plants. The Dew Drop works on the principles of condensation. All the user has to do is to plant the artificial leaf in the same pot as the plant and connect it to a wall plug. Water condenses on the leaf and is fed to the plants.
Industrial design student at Germany’s Muthesius Academy of Fine Arts and Design, Imke Hoehler, has created a system that harvests potable water from thin air and mist. Dubbed theDropNet, the water-collecting system can harvest up to 20 liters of clean water each day, and an array of several structures could supply a whole village with potable water.
• Groasis Waterboxx:
Created by Dutch entrepreneur Pieter Hoff, the Groasis Waterboxx can produce fresh water even in the driest places on earth. Inspired by bird poop, the device is modeled after the way excrement protects seeds that birds have digested, providing humidity and shelter from the elements so that they can grow. The 20-inch by 10-inch box surrounds the young plant and at night an insulation plate allows it to harvest water through condensation.
• Solar-powered system to generate potable water:
Research scientists at the Fraunhofer Institute for Interfacial Engineering and Biotechnology IGB believe that at an average 64 percent humidity, a cubic meter of air carries about 11.5ml of water, which if extracted can solve the problems of billions of people living in rural areas. The system makes use of hygroscopic brine that absorbs moisture. When this solution is made to run down a tower-shaped unit, it sucks up water from the air, which is then fed into a tank where vacuum prevails. Solar energy then heats up the solution converting water to vapor, which is then condensed and collected.
• Water Building Resort:
This may not be the portable water-producing device that you are looking for, but this beautiful conceptual resort is designed to answer similar issues. Conceived by Orlando de Urrutia, the Water Building Resort will make use of the best in technology to generate solar electricity, water from air and will also make sea water potable.
Perhaps now it’s easier to understand how a single tree with acres of surface area for condensation – leaves -can create extra water, and why cutting forests is the surest way to create local and global deserts. – N.I.
For more information about wind power see http://nexusilluminati.blogspot.com/search/label/wind%20power
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