In California, which is suffering from drought and a shortage of drinking water, a new solution is being tested: getting water from … the air!
Many atmospheric water generators work on a principle very similar to air dryers: the air is rapidly cooled by special coils, causing it to condense. The rate of water production depends on several factors such as the air temperature and humidity, the amount of air passing through the refrigerant, and its ability to lower the temperature. Other less common methods use different materials to help produce water from the air, such as lithium chloride, lithium bromide, silica gel, and others. Work is also underway on devices capable of producing drinking water directly using sunlight.
The technology for obtaining water from the air is promising, although it is not cheap. Machines that can extract water from air cost between $30,000 and $200,000, but it is estimated that prices will fall as the technology becomes more popular.
One of the systems developed in recent years is a Tsunami product. The company’s system is one of those systems that extract water from the moisture in the air. Other solutions used in this field include: on special grids, solar panels, and even ordinary shipping containers that collect moisture from the air.
Ted Bowman, a designer engineer involved in the production of machines that extract water from air, quotes the company’s slogan: “Water from air is not magic, it is science!”. Bowman says his devices, which are made by his subsidiary, are suitable for use in homes, offices and farms. It dries the air and thus produces water that is filtered to make it potable.
The technology in question works well in foggy areas, and can produce between 900 and 8,600 liters of water per day, depending on the volume. Currently, the largest demand for innovative machines is in California. Some time ago, the authorities asked residents of a country with approximately the same population of Poland to provide water. One of the most severe droughts in California’s recent history has depleted reservoirs, leading homeowners to purchase them to produce water in their gardens.
Experts, including University of California hydrologist Helen Dalke, say the technology really makes sense and can be very beneficial for single homeowners, especially in rural areas. Unfortunately, this is not a viable solution to California’s broader water problems.
Time will tell if the technology is adopted enough to make it profitable for more people thanks to mass production. The country of about 38 million people will have to look for other solutions to meet the challenges it faces. However, the innovation of the companies out there (remember that this is where the famous Silicon Valley is located) and the enthusiasm of the population to adapt modern solutions allow us to look at the problem with hope. If California can overcome its water shortage, that would be great news for many other regions in the world that are facing similar problems.
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