Source: solar panels that extract water from the air
Access to clean drinking water seems to be a privilege rather than a right. Deserts are expanding and draughts are happening because of climate change. Water infrastructure is aging, in some places leaking lead or harmful chemicals in the water. Zero Mass Water, a spin-off company of Arizona State University, wants to “democratise water” with their device called Source. Source extracts clean water from the air, powered by solar panels.
There is an inexhaustible supply of water vapour in the air. The technology extracts this from the air, collecting it. The water is clean, without any air pollution, but it also lacks minerals. The composition is similar to distilled water. To make the water taste better and make it healthier, the device adds minerals (calcium, magnesium, activated carbon) through a mineral cartridge, which has to be changed every 5 years. Another part that needs to be changed is an air-filter, which has to be swapped out every year.
The panels extract the water from the air and collect it in a 30-litre reservoir. Thanks to condensation, the vapour turns back into water. The whole system is powered by solar energy, so it is completely off-grid. The remaining energy is stored in a Li-ion battery for when the sun is not shining.
One device is 1.2 x 2.4 metres (4 x 8 feet) and produces 2 to 5 litres of water per day, which doesn’t sound like a lot, considering an average person needs 1.5 to 2 litres per day. Still, 2 litres of clean water is better than nothing. The amount of water depends on conditions related to sunshine and humidity, though the company assures us that even with low humidity, the device produces water.
If you buy a device, you pay 10 per cent extra to fund an installation for people with no access to clean drink water. These people do not receive Source for free. Instead, they pay for the installation and transportation costs so that the money stays in the local economy.
According to the website, Source has a lifespan of 10 years.