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Arizona startups are using hydropanel to extract water from thin air

Water is becoming more valuable as drought destroys many parts of the world. But the air we breathe is full of water. There is more water in the air than the combined water of all the rivers of the world. If only we could put a straw in it. A technology start-up has found a way to do this. Type, type. The company is Source Global and its groundbreaking hydropanels are operating in areas such as Saudi Arabia, Western Australia and the Warm Springs Reservations in arid Central Oregon.

Here, the four-by-eight-foot panel buzzes all day and closes at night. These are set up in cinder blocks, not plugged into anything Each weighs about 340 pounds dry, but they gradually become heavier as they are filled with water absorbed from the surrounding atmosphere. Each row of fans draws air into each panel, where it is transferred through a hygroscopic mesh material, which separates the water from the oxygen. The same sunlight that energizes the fan provides heat which conducts condensation, allowing water to accumulate in the internal reservoir. If you’ve ever built a solar station to collect condensate for drinking in the wild, you’ll get the idea.

After creating pure, distilled water, the panel pumps water into a faucet. If the line is not opened, water is run internally to keep it clean until someone drains it. The next day, it will be full again – until the sun is out.

People are drinking water in cowboy hats

To replicate our normal drinking water for taste and health, water is pushed through a mineral profile package. Source Global PBC

Hydropanels work off-grid and are self-contained. If they look like solar panels, solar energy drives their internal electronics. Each panel produces about one gallon and a half of water per day, depending on the climatic conditions.

Colin Goddard, senior director at Source Global, said: “This is a technology created in the middle of the Sonoran Desert, where relative humidity is low-10-percent for significant parts of the year where dehumidifiers do not work.” “We are uniquely capable of producing water in those places.”

Source Global is not the only company that has developed a device that produces drinking water from the air. Exaeris’ AcquaTap, which debuted at CES 2021, has similar functions, but is designed as a portable gadget for recreational users.

Sources say the goal is to bring drinking water to communities where access is otherwise difficult.

“We’re sourcing an average of 160 gallons a day,” said Jim Sawers, CEO of Worm Springs Economic Development Corporation. In a place where drinking water infrastructure is badly needed, the panels have a whitewashed fix.

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