We learned something of the water cycle when we were at school; that the atmosphere is filled with invisible droplets of water vapour that have evaporated from the bodies of liquid water, and when the temperature of the vapour drops, it turns back into water.
An Israeli company called Water-Gen has built machines using the principle to harvest condensation. The company’s vision is to provide humanity with an abundant, renewable source of fresh, clean drinking water, by extracting it directly from the air, our most abundant water resource.
Using a system comprised of a set of plastic ‘leaves’ (a thermally low-conductive material) stacked together, the machinery funnels air in various directions, and in the process, seems to create pure drinking water out of nothing.
The target is to extract water from the air with minimum energy, the founder and co-CEO Arye Kohavi said in a recent interview in Business Insider.
“We think our solution can solve the problem on the level of countries. It’s an immediate solution – governments don’t need to spend decades to make a big project.”
Water-Gen was one of seven Israeli companies that presented technological innovations at the United Nations General Assembly in September.
The company currently makes three sizes of water generating machines, each of which must be plugged into a power source. At 80 degrees and 60 percent humidity, the biggest can yield about 825 gallons (3,122 litres) per day, but the technology is scalable.
The Water-Gen team is looking to bring the technology to two types of places: areas that don’t have drinkable tap water, and locations that are warm and humid. The two sets of conditions often overlap.
Water-Gen is currently testing its products in cities like Mumbai, Shanghai and Mexico City, as well as more rural locations. The company’s products are expected to be commercially available by the end of next year.
Climate change and the growing world population are making the accessible drinking water increasingly important, so the company hopes to bring its technology directly to governments.