Renewable Energy Used to Make Drinking Water From Air Humidity

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.

Scientists can make drinking water from desert air.

Scientists can make drinking water from desert air. / Image by hamed saber

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.

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Author: Jennifer Lance

  1. I’m surprised that people haven’t done more with this — even here in the U.S. I live in Florida and we use a dehumidifier indoors sometimes when it’s too humid indoors but we don’t want to run the AC. We could get gallons a day from that little thing!

    I’d be curious to have it tested to see if it is potable. Goodness knows, we’re probably breathing in whatever is in it anyhow! And at the very least, it can be used to water plants, flush toilets, etc.

    I wish it was easier to use that water — and that we could somehow do the same with our AC. Maybe someday my husband will link it altogether in some nifty gray water system!

  2. There is a company in Canada (Element Four – WaterMill) that has a little self contained condenser to do just this. The effect on the locality is nil – the water is stored only temporarily and then drunk or used and returned to the environment. Net change in water – nil.

    Don’t do this with your AC unit water – the Canadian unit is made from stainless steel and uses UV lights to keep bacteria from growing.

  3. Malaysia is such a humid country with plenty of natural resources but with development not properly planned, clean water is limited to dams. I hope soon a big conglomerate in Malaysia will take up the challenge to start this program. YTL Group is the most capable to take this up.

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