Oct 23, 2018

Artificial Cloud Generates Drinking Water From Air

The innovative drinking water system won the Abundance XPrize

Drinking water system mimics clouds to draw water from air
Drinking water system mimics clouds to draw water from air

A new device, designed by the Skysource/Skywater Alliance team, won the $1.5 million Water Abundance XPrize. The device rests inside a shipping container and uses clean energy to generate drinking water by pulling water from the air, similarly to a cloud.

The competition, developed in 2016, tasks designers with building a device that can extract at least 2,000 liters of water a day from the atmosphere, uses clean energy and costs no more than 2 cents per liter, according to Fast Company. The prize winning system, called WEDEW (wood-to-energy deployed water), uses a shipping container to mimic how clouds are formed by condensing warm air, and is powered by a biomass gassifier. The energy source can be fueled by biomass, such as wood chips or coconut shells.

“It’s a carbon-negative technology,” said David Hertz, an architect who helped lead the project. “I think the future of technologies is going to be moving to this restorative, regenerative model that actually helps to repair the damage we’ve done.”

The drinking water device also can be used in places where wood is less available, as reported by Mental Floss. It can be adopted to run on solar or battery power instead of biomass.

“Our process is one that is really antithetical to the slow-moving infrastructure that exists that is not able to be responsive to a changing  climate as it is in the case of say, Cape Town, for instance,” Hertz said.

While the drinking water device already is in use in some places, the team plans to use the prize money to deploy the system worldwide with nonprofits.