Scientists have discovered a way to make drinking water from the air’s humidity, even in arid regions. The system completely uses renewable energy and could provide water for many applications. Models have been built and tested in laboratories at the Fraunhofer Institute for Interfacial Engineering and Biotechnology IGB in Stuttgart.
Even in areas where there is no surface water or plant life, there is still moisture in the air. For example, the Sonoran Desert’s relative humidity ranges from 62% to 27% depending on the season and time of day. Researchers at the Fraunhofer Institute have worked with Logos Innovationen to develop the process for making potable water from desert air. According to Clean Tech:
The process uses thermal solar collectors and photovoltaic cells, so it can function where there’s no electricity, such as in deserts. The way it works is through a salt and water solution that soaks up moisture, which runs down a tower-shaped unit, sopping up water from the air. The saline solution then gets sucked up into an elevated tank by a vacuum. Solar energy heats the solution, which is thinned by the water it has absorbed. The liquid has such a low boiling point because of atmospheric pressure.
Removing the humidity from the air to make drinking water is a unique solution, but I wonder what the meteorological consequences would be to the environment. Would it affect precipitation in non-arid regions? Is this really a solution to the world water crisis? Whatever the answers, this is an interesting application of renewable energy and clean technology.