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Machine Condenses Drinking Water Out of Thin Air

timothy posted more than 5 years ago | from the LED-bulbs-or-klieg-light-specials? dept.

Earth 438

longacre writes "A new $1,200 machine that uses the same amount of power as three light bulbs promises to condense drinkable water out of the air. On display at Wired Magazine's annual tech showcase, the WaterMill 'looks like a giant golf ball that has been chopped in half: it is about 3ft in diameter, made of white plastic, and is attached to the wall. It works by drawing air through filters to remove dust and particles, then cooling it to just below the temperature at which dew forms. The condensed water is passed through a self-sterilising chamber that uses microbe-busting UV light to eradicate any possibility of Legionnaires' disease or other infections. Finally, it is filtered and passed through a pipe to the owner's fridge or kitchen tap.'"

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Amazing! They've invented... (5, Funny)

John Hasler (414242) | more than 5 years ago | (#25866281)

...the dehumidifier!

Re:Amazing! They've invented... (1)

Gordonjcp (186804) | more than 5 years ago | (#25866325)

Exactly my first thought on reading this, too.

Re:Amazing! They've invented... (4, Funny)

goatpunch (668594) | more than 5 years ago | (#25866385)

No, it's called a Vaporator, and it was invented by George Lucas in the 70's: http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/en/8/83/Luke-Treadwell_close_large.jpg [wikimedia.org]

Re:Amazing! They've invented... (5, Funny)

Rayban (13436) | more than 5 years ago | (#25866589)

Now all we need is a droid that understands the binary language of moisture vaporators.

Re:Amazing! They've invented... (1)

maxume (22995) | more than 5 years ago | (#25866675)

You mean "thought of".

Reserving "invented" for things that actually do something will save us all a lot of trouble later.

Re:Amazing! They've invented... (4, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25866677)

You mean George Lucas stole it from the designs of the Fremen windtraps in Dune, just like he stole everything else in Star Wars.

Re:Amazing! They've invented... (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25866759)

Too bad he didn't steal the implausible story and/or the ludicrous plot. Or maybe he did?

Re:Amazing! They've invented... (5, Funny)

bytesex (112972) | more than 5 years ago | (#25866857)

Yes, but to compensate he added muppets.

Re:Amazing! They've invented... (4, Funny)

geekmux (1040042) | more than 5 years ago | (#25866457)

...the dehumidifier!

Don't be a smartass. It's a dehumdifier with a filter. Big difference.

Re:Amazing! They've invented... (4, Informative)

Firethorn (177587) | more than 5 years ago | (#25866495)

Don't forget the sanitizing UV light...

I remember instructions on how to make something like this in the scouts - it involved a sheet of plastic and some rocks.

Re:Amazing! They've invented... (3, Informative)

repvik (96666) | more than 5 years ago | (#25866693)

Yeah, but that only works at night

Re:Amazing! They've invented... (1)

mustafap (452510) | more than 5 years ago | (#25866811)

Doesn't waste energy making it, however

Re:Amazing! They've invented... (1)

LordKaT (619540) | more than 5 years ago | (#25866461)

Hm ... funny or insightful, insightful or funny ...

Oh fuck I just commented, nevermind.

Re:Amazing! They've invented... (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25866621)

http://mrfriendly.byethost4.com/index.php

My refrigerator does this already (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25866289)

Check your refrigerator or freezer for water drops or ice. If you find none, open the door over night.

This principle is so not new!

Re:My refrigerator does this already (2, Funny)

uberjack (1311219) | more than 5 years ago | (#25866777)

Did you get the idea when you noticed the refrigerator was cold?

Seems kind of silly (5, Funny)

eln (21727) | more than 5 years ago | (#25866301)

They would get much better results using one of these things in thick, humid air rather than insisting on using thin air.

Who spends $1200 for a pimped dehumidifier... (4, Funny)

mark0 (750639) | more than 5 years ago | (#25866313)

... but won't spend the money on first class stamp to write to their public water authority and complain about whatever it is they think is wrong with the water supply?

Re:Who spends $1200 for a pimped dehumidifier... (1)

blincoln (592401) | more than 5 years ago | (#25866529)

I imagine the target market is people who live off the grid, or want a backup in case the grid fails.

Re:Who spends $1200 for a pimped dehumidifier... (5, Insightful)

John Hasler (414242) | more than 5 years ago | (#25866655)

> I imagine the target market is people who live off the grid...

Such people usually use a clever invention called a well.

> ...a backup in case the grid fails.

It comes with a hand crank?

Re:Who spends $1200 for a pimped dehumidifier... (1)

Fourier404 (1129107) | more than 5 years ago | (#25866755)

Because digging a well is obviously much more convenient.

Re:Who spends $1200 for a pimped dehumidifier... (5, Interesting)

c (8461) | more than 5 years ago | (#25866841)

"public water authority"?

Ah... you must live in a large built-up area where water comes out of a big pipe provided by a municipality of some sort.

I'm on a dug well with extremely hard water and a tendency to go dry during droughts. Between the filters, UV treatment, water softener, RO filter system, pumps, cisterns, etc... there's probably $5000 for all the bits and parts of my water system. I've spent $1200 on far dumber things than drinking water. For someone with, say, a sulphur problem... $1200 would be darn cheap.

c.

Dune (5, Interesting)

rufus t firefly (35399) | more than 5 years ago | (#25866323)

I'm surprised no one has mentioned Dune or its wind traps yet.

Or that no one has mentioned another story on slashdot [slashdot.org] about extracting water from wind, even if the other one used a windmill to do so.

Or Star Wars (0, Offtopic)

Yooden_Vranx (758878) | more than 5 years ago | (#25866387)

Next step: protocol droids to understand the binary language of moisture vaporators!

Re:Or Star Wars (0, Offtopic)

Dutch Gun (899105) | more than 5 years ago | (#25866421)

Also, be sure it speaks Bacchi...

Re:Or Star Wars (1, Offtopic)

Keill (920526) | more than 5 years ago | (#25866697)

I think you mean Bocce...

http://starwars.wikia.com/wiki/Bocce [wikia.com]

(I don't know - coming to slashdot and getting you're Star Wars references wrong... *sigh*).

Re:Or Star Wars (0, Offtopic)

gEvil (beta) (945888) | more than 5 years ago | (#25866765)

Are you sure you don't mean Bocce? [montebellosc.com]

Uncle Owen? (1)

Aranykai (1053846) | more than 5 years ago | (#25866331)

Didn't he make a living with these machines back in the 70's? Something about moisture vaporators...

Re:Uncle Owen? (4, Funny)

Cinnamon Whirl (979637) | more than 5 years ago | (#25866651)

Yeah, but this requires just 3 lightbulbs worth of power (or whatever) - Moisture Vaporators need Power Converters, and then there's the trip to the Toshi station. No comparison, really.

Efficiency (2)

karstux (681641) | more than 5 years ago | (#25866333)

I'm somewhat sure that a communal water treatment plant achieves a better efficiency than 600 watt-hours per litre.

Re:Efficiency (1)

Tubal-Cain (1289912) | more than 5 years ago | (#25866595)

Water treatment plants. probably don't get their water from the atmosphere (unless you count desalination plants).

Re:Efficiency (1)

Tubal-Cain (1289912) | more than 5 years ago | (#25866633)

..treatment plants. probably don't...

Oops.

Just Vaporware (5, Funny)

Keychain (1249466) | more than 5 years ago | (#25866335)

That's what it is, just vaporware !

Re:Just Vaporware (3, Informative)

K. S. Kyosuke (729550) | more than 5 years ago | (#25866425)

Exactly the opposite, this machine turns vaporware into a solid liquid product.

Re:Just Vaporware (1)

Tubal-Cain (1289912) | more than 5 years ago | (#25866601)

So it might make Duke Nukem real?

Re:Just Vaporware (3, Funny)

Tikkun (992269) | more than 5 years ago | (#25866833)

So it might make Duke Nukem real?

It might, although doing so would likely tear a hole in the space time continuum. Even if you accept the many-universes interpretation of quantum mechanics, a universe in which DNF exists as a playable game is just too improbable.

Re:Just Vaporware (1)

FreeFull (1043860) | more than 5 years ago | (#25866603)

Liquids aren't exactly solid. If they would, something would be wrong with the universe.

Re:Just Vaporware (5, Funny)

profplump (309017) | more than 5 years ago | (#25866613)

Solid liquid, eh? Exactly what phases of matter do you have over there?

Re:Just Vaporware (1)

K. S. Kyosuke (729550) | more than 5 years ago | (#25866863)

Just the usual ones, but my words have tended to suffer from polysemy over recent years.

Pretty sure this isn't new (1)

MilesTails (1413987) | more than 5 years ago | (#25866341)

Been around a while hasn't it? I'm sure it was on Dragons Den (UK Investment type TV show).

Re:Pretty sure this isn't new (1)

4D6963 (933028) | more than 5 years ago | (#25866373)

I remember reading about something to that effect a decade ago. A backpack system that when deployed would slowly make drinking water out of the air, even in the middle of a desert, which was what this thing was made for.

Re:Pretty sure this isn't new (3, Informative)

v1 (525388) | more than 5 years ago | (#25866563)

not sure what the diff between this and that is, but this one says it's not useful below 30% rel humidity. Not useful in the desert. Not during the daytime anyway. Maybe at night. There's a lot of critters in the desert that get all of their moisture by licking up the morning dew.

dehumidifier? (1)

retchdog (1319261) | more than 5 years ago | (#25866359)

Uhh... am I missing something, or is it just a dehumidifer with a UV light (and maybe some antimicrobial plastic)? Here's a hint: if you are so desperate for water as to need this, there's probably very little moisture in the air anyway.

The target market for this is the ecologically-posturing super-yuppie who doesn't like bottled water but wouldn't be caught dead using (horrors!) water from the plebeian tap.

Re:dehumidifier? (1)

Nutria (679911) | more than 5 years ago | (#25866569)

Here's a hint: if you are so desperate for water as to need this, there's probably very little moisture in the air anyway.

Large life rafts could also use them, with accompanying bicycle-pedal generator.

Re:dehumidifier? (1)

durrr (1316311) | more than 5 years ago | (#25866679)

You best hope that your sinking boat is full of professional cyclists if you're to stand any chance of reliably pedal powering a 100+W device for any sustained periods.

Re:dehumidifier? (1)

maxume (22995) | more than 5 years ago | (#25866707)

Or they could just store an equivalent mass or volume of water.

Sure, a generator has some advantages over consumables, but I doubt the math works out for a life raft.

Star Wars? (0, Redundant)

thesaurus (1220706) | more than 5 years ago | (#25866361)

Isn't this the business Luke's uncle and aunt were in on Tatooine? Making Star Wars a reality is the most important consideration of course.

my broken refrigerator does this for free (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25866367)

I have to keep a small bowl in the fridge which fills up with water every day from the leaking (frostless) freezer.

So my broken fridge is worth $1200 eh?

Send this to the third world (2, Interesting)

TheSpoom (715771) | more than 5 years ago | (#25866375)

If we can solve the problem of giving it power (possibly with a hand crank and battery or some such thing), this should be sent to countries where drought is a problem.

Re:Send this to the third world (4, Insightful)

adonoman (624929) | more than 5 years ago | (#25866401)

At 600 watt-hours per liter, you're going to be losing more energy to sweat and breathing than you could possibly get close to generating by hand.

Re:Send this to the third world (5, Insightful)

the eric conspiracy (20178) | more than 5 years ago | (#25866503)

Yeah, this is ONLY 200 times less efficient than desalinization.

Criminy.

Re:Send this to the third world (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25866443)

If we can solve the problem of giving it power (possibly with a hand crank and battery or some such thing), this should be sent to countries where drought is a problem.

Won't work.

Drought manifests itself as a lack of water, including lack of humidity in the air. If there is no humidity, then there is no water to condense out of the air by this device.

Re:Send this to the third world (1)

icebrain (944107) | more than 5 years ago | (#25866645)

Parts of the southeast US are in a drought, but it's still plenty muggy enough here...

Re:Send this to the third world (4, Insightful)

gsslay (807818) | more than 5 years ago | (#25866639)

this should be sent to countries where drought is a problem.

If drought is a problem I suspect there isn't going to be a whole lot of humid air to extract water from. "The mill ceases to be effective below about 30 per cent relative humidity levels,"

And after cranking that thing to produce 300W (about three light bulbs, and I'm guessing it means old-style, power inefficient, ones), you're going to need more than a glass of water.

And that's before we even consider the price tag.

Re:Send this to the third world (4, Funny)

John Hasler (414242) | more than 5 years ago | (#25866685)

> And after cranking that thing to produce 300W (about three light bulbs, and I'm guessing
> it means old-style, power inefficient, ones), you're going to need more than a glass of
> water.

But you may sweat enough to drive the humidity up to 30% so that the thing will begin to work.

The balance may remain.. (5, Interesting)

powerslave12r (1389937) | more than 5 years ago | (#25866377)

If these go wide-scale, wouldn't our air be drier? Which in turn would allow more water to be sucked up in the air from the nearby water bodies, which basically means you're getting your water through the air, or wireless (sic) if you will.

Re:The balance may remain.. (3, Funny)

Dutch Gun (899105) | more than 5 years ago | (#25866453)

getting your water through the air, or wireless (sic) if you will

How about "tubeless"?

Re:The balance may remain.. (1)

modmans2ndcoming (929661) | more than 5 years ago | (#25866497)

you just described the water cycle.

We pull it from somewhere. might as well be the air.

Re:The balance may remain.. (1)

powerslave12r (1389937) | more than 5 years ago | (#25866687)

True, but at what cost? That's exactly what I'm saying, you're just changing the way you get your water. The original source of it remains the same. This method is good only if your local water supply is using lead pipes and and you, for some weird reason, don't want free lead.

Re:The balance may remain.. (1)

EXMSFT (935404) | more than 5 years ago | (#25866805)

You've never been to Houston or New Orleans, have you? Less humidity in the south is a good thing. :-)

Hmm. (4, Funny)

fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) | more than 5 years ago | (#25866393)

How long will we have to wait before Linux has support for the binary language of moisture vaporators?

Minerals? (1, Insightful)

Max Romantschuk (132276) | more than 5 years ago | (#25866427)

Regular tap water has a small amount of minerals, whereas distilled water (which this is, I presume) has none. Those minerals are actually rather critical:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Water_intoxication [wikipedia.org]

(Of course, regular tap water is dangerous too in laaarge doses.)

I have no idea if this is an issue... Anyone have a clue? :)

Also, three lightbulbs? Watts please... Found no proper specs on the site.

Re:Minerals? (2)

Firethorn (177587) | more than 5 years ago | (#25866575)

Might want to check your post, it's a bit disjointed.

The minerals in tap water are indeed useful, if not critical. Most distilled water intended for drinking has 'minerals and salts added for taste'. ;)

As your post notes, water intoxication is indeed a valid issue - on average it takes out a couple of military people in basic training a year.

Re:Minerals? (2, Funny)

K. S. Kyosuke (729550) | more than 5 years ago | (#25866583)

Of course, regular tap water is dangerous too in laaarge doses.

In very large doses, everything eventually collapses and forms a black hole, and black holes, as we all know, are dangerous. Therefore, everything is dangerous in large doses.

Re:Minerals? (1)

Dr_Banzai (111657) | more than 5 years ago | (#25866587)

If they say it uses the same power as "three lightbulbs" it probably means the worst possible case, 300 watts. Good luck powering that with a solar panel.

Re:Minerals? (2, Informative)

v1 (525388) | more than 5 years ago | (#25866641)

Here in Iowa we get our water from limestone-based aquafers and sand wells. Water's almost crunchy. I just got done using an entire gallon of vinegar to remove the lime from my bathtub, and I have to soak the tap filters several times a year or the screens solidify.

Though once you get used to drinking "real water", bottled water is almost nasty tasting. It's hard to describe... it's just like drinking water from a tap at someone's house that has a water conditioner. It almost has a soapy or dulling/flat taste to it. There's just something a whole lot more refreshing drinking ice cold water that has some mineral content to it.

I don't like drinking the water when I travel. Water that's either bottled, conditioned, or reclaimed out of the local river and gone through intense filtering. I need to start packing my own water when I go on vacation...

Customers . . . (1)

watcher10101 (1414007) | more than 5 years ago | (#25866431)

Those Sietch Tabr focus groups loved it.

This could be very useful on ships... (3, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25866441)

Nowadays, you either bring all your water along in tanks or use vaps to get fresh water from seawater.

If this works reliably and with that small amount of power, I can see ships and submarines adopting this to save weight and power requirements.

Useful on boats? (1)

JustNilt (984644) | more than 5 years ago | (#25866475)

I imagine such a device would be invaluable on small vessels at sea such as sailboats, etc. It sounds as though you could power this from a solar panel easily enough, so it could be used even without fuel if you prepared properly. I know that getting drinking water is often an issue for smaller boats which may not have room or power for desalination or reverse osmosis units.

According to the manufacturer's website, these things will produce "up to 12 liters of water per day". Generally, an adult needs a couple liters a day and we can assume from the "up to" the manufacturer is overstating the actual output by a bit. Still, a small boat with 3 or 4 adults could probably rely on one of these things reasonably well, I think.

Re:Useful on boats? (1)

John Hasler (414242) | more than 5 years ago | (#25866729)

> I imagine such a device would be invaluable on small vessels at sea such as sailboats,
> etc.

Except that they already use ordinary vacuum stills or reverse-osmosis machines, both of which are much more efficient.

Re:Useful on boats? (2, Informative)

profplump (309017) | more than 5 years ago | (#25866737)

At 300 watts you'd need a fair amount of solar panels. And even then you'd only be able to run it during the day -- if you wanted to run it 24/7 you'd need something more like 1+ kW and a battery system. And you'd still be hoping for enough rain to drink rainwater any day it wasn't sunny.

Why? (2, Insightful)

hcdejong (561314) | more than 5 years ago | (#25866489)

The Element Four site doesn't say, but the inane "3 lightbulbs" remark from the Guardian article suggests it uses 200-300 W to produce 12 liters of water per day, if the humidity is >30%. Assuming 200 W, that's 1750 kWh/year.
The site markets this to First World households. But is that where its value lies? I get potable water from the tap, and so does most of Europe (and I pay E 1/m^3 instead of $0,30/litre). IDK about the States. The site mentions a ludicrous amount of bottled water, is that because US tap water isn't potable or is it just a fad?

The locations that most need this (hot and dry climates) I guess would fail the "humidity >30%" criterium.

The site only compares its efficiency with that of "bottled water" production, but what we need would be a comparison with e.g. a desalinisation plant.

Sorry for rambling a bit, but it adds up to this: is this condensor something the world needs, or just another "a fool and his money are soon parted" scheme?

Re:Why? (1)

rrohbeck (944847) | more than 5 years ago | (#25866653)

Bottled water is just a fad. Tap water is generally better quality than bottled. And even for people who don't like the taste of their tap water, a $20 water filter would do the trick. There have been many comparisons between bottled and tap water, and they all had the same result: Bottled is at best the same quality as tap water and about 3 orders of magnitude more expensive.
No, it's not something the world needs. It's a fancy energy waster for people who already have everything. Anybody who lives off the grid needs some water source, and filtering that water is orders of magnitude more efficient than condensing water out of air. And anybody who doesn't have access to water won't have access to lots of electrical energy either.

Re:Why? (1)

Narpak (961733) | more than 5 years ago | (#25866695)

Well if this incarnation of the technology is actually of practical use I can not say. But if the concept can be modified, refined, and become more efficient I am sure the potential field of use is pretty huge.

Can a battery driven version be designed for use aboard life-rafts (as was suggested earlier)?
Can it replace dragging along quantities of water on hiking/climbing trips? Or have some similar practical application for the military?

I am sure I could discover a few more alternatives, and probably will a few minutes after submitting this post; but the point is that I think it early to criticize the technology based upon insufficient data of an early incarnation of the concept.

Re:Why? (1)

maxume (22995) | more than 5 years ago | (#25866757)

Fad.

Sometimes, municipal water can taste funny, and a lot of people have their own wells, so taste can be an issue there as well, but for the most part, water in the U.S. is fantastic.

This is great! (4, Funny)

overshoot (39700) | more than 5 years ago | (#25866493)

Perfect for people who have lots of money and electricity but no water service.

Both of them.

Waste (1)

zoomshorts (137587) | more than 5 years ago | (#25866507)

of resources, money and energy. Old concept.

this begs the question (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25866509)

What I really need is a droid that understands the binary language of moisture vaporators!

Combine with the car that runs on water... (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25866519)

...and we have unlimited source of power!

Mechas anyone?

An interesting novelty item (1)

PingXao (153057) | more than 5 years ago | (#25866539)

They just took up to the space station a machine that makes drinking water out of PISS. Now THAT'S impressive. This thing is a glorified de-humidifier. I had one when I was a kid in my room. Minus the fancy ultraviolet thingy. Something like this will appeal to Mac owners, maybe. All style with little else to justify the price tag. It's not even efficient or eco-friendly when you get right down to it.

Need more data (1)

Tubal-Cain (1289912) | more than 5 years ago | (#25866541)

uses the same amount of power as three light bulbs

That's great to hear. Now how much water does it produce? I don't want to run it all week just to get 3 oz.

First water, then electricity? (1)

geekmux (1040042) | more than 5 years ago | (#25866555)

On a side note, let's also find a way to harness the static electricity buildup that would be generated from an ultra-low humid environment if this were deployed on a very wide-scale?

Plop a couple of huge caps on this thing harnessing static discharge, and you may find a way to perpetually power it.

(Do Slashdot posts qualify as "dibs" on patent designs? If so, I call it!)

So inefficient it's useless (1)

Jimmy_B (129296) | more than 5 years ago | (#25866561)

According to the product's web page [elementfour.com] , it produces 12L per day. That page says nothing about power consumption, but the article has the (frustratingly imprecise) claim of "about three light bulbs" of power consumption, so assume that means 200W. 200W for a day is about 17MJ, which is about 1.5MJ/L or 400kWh/m^3. By comparison, the best desalination processes cost about 1.5kWh/m^3 and typical processes cost only twice that (source [wikipedia.org] ).

In other words, you would only use this if getting pipes run to your house was completely impossible, and digging a well was completely impossible. That means there are only a few places where it could be useful, and most of them happen to be deserts which are probably too dry to use it anyways.

Hmmmm. The arid west (1)

WindBourne (631190) | more than 5 years ago | (#25866585)

The American west is getting more and more arid. At some point, we will probably have to ship water here. One idea is to pipe it from either the great lakes (the midwest is fighting that idea; enough jobs have already gone) OR from Texas, or from CA.

But this might present unique opportunities. In particular, rather than piping it back, but up giant windmills or fountains to help saturate the air in CA, and then pull it out of the air in various places like SLC and Denver. This might even be done in eastern CA, on top of some of their peaks there. The reason is to help move it across the range. If the air can be made to carry more water and this idea works, it is simply trading the carrier from pipes to air.

Solar Still (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25866605)

We made these in boy scouts. They collect a little bit of water which I guess is better than nothing.

They can also purify water/urine but putting the grey water outside the cup where you collect the good water. Can't say we tried that.

Uncle Ben was a moisture farmer.

Dehumidifier? (1)

mahohmei (540475) | more than 5 years ago | (#25866615)

My $140 dehumidifier can create up to three gallons a day here in humid Florida. At 500 W, though, I'd pay the electric utility about $1.70 for those three gallons of water, when I could get the same thing from the water utility for half a cent.

My wife used to drink bottled water, then we got a pour-in water filter. Same damn thing at 1/1000 the cost. :-)

I'll pass. (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25866617)

Ignoring friction losses, and inefficiencies, You have to move 2250 joules to condense one gram of water, and that is work.... a lot of work.

Just 10 liters of water a day would take 22 million Joules, or 250 Watts (6000 Watt-hours, or 6 kWh)

The average person uses 500 liters a day, so that's 300 kWh, or about $30 a day.

They appear to be marketing this box to replace "bottled" water usage.... They filter solids, but they also don't say what they do about vapor-phase pollutants, such as benzene and other aromatic hydrocarbons that will also be in the condensate.

I would never drink condensate like this unless it were a life and death situation.

Not to mention, that in most places, dehumidifying the indoor air will cause people to need to turn up the heat, and use even more energy. Plus, air conditioning depends on phase-change (dehumidification) for efficiency. In dry air, it is much less efficient -- again, more energy.

odyssey 5 episode (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25866637)

there was an episode of odyssey 5 http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0318236/ about this. The device caused the air to dry & heat up in the region...Too bad element four didn't happen to make the watermill look like a gramophone.

Miracle it's not. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25866643)

"About 3 lightbulbs" can be up to 400 watts, assuming 120W is the top end of what can be considered a "reasonable" consumer lightbulb. That's actually a fair bit of power.

Meanwhile, output (per the manufacturer's site) can be "up to" 12 liters a day, about 3 gallons. Not bad output, but is this, say, on a cool day with a rainstorm outside? Or is this at 30% humidity, which the manufacturer admits is the lower limit for effectiveness of the device? What's the dropoff? TFA implies in drier areas the machine can shut off during drier parts of the day, so you save power, but obviously get less. How much of each?

Where I live (New York), at 400W, the device would cost just a fraction over $2 a day to operate. That would be a decent price for 3 gallons of fresh water a day. It would be cost-competetive with store-bought for 2 gallons a day. And it's not compelling for less than that. So I don't know how much of a "miracle machine" this really is.

That's all if I drank bottled, which I don't--we have some of the best tap water in the world, and I think people who drink bottled in NYC are somewhat crazy. Because tap water sells from the city at $2.31 per 100cf, which is 0.3 CENTS per gallon.

At best, this is slightly more eco-friendly than bottled, since you don't have the transport costs and bottling costs (though you do have the electricity costs). And your water might be a bit cheaper (though I'm skeptical how close the actual output will be to the marketing "up to 12 L!" hype). But if you want to save the world, or save a bundle, this just isn't the device you're looking for. Move along.

Luke Skywalker will always rue this day. (1)

arthurh3535 (447288) | more than 5 years ago | (#25866681)

I mean, how long is it going to be before Evaporator Farms in deserts happen? Really!

Re:Luke Skywalker will always rue this day. (1)

Yvan256 (722131) | more than 5 years ago | (#25866809)

Cow farm = cowboy....

Evaporator farms = this [wikipedia.org] ?

Ouch (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25866721)

My eyes itch already

Why not put the effort and money into desalination (1)

JBG667 (690404) | more than 5 years ago | (#25866767)

This is nice, but it relies on electricity. If they can mitigate the need for the thing to be plugged in, this would go a lot further in the areas where electricity is as unreliable as the water supply.

What we should be focusing on, and I am surprised there isn't an X-prize on it yet, is how to get drinkable water from the ocean by using solar power or other non-grid source of energy. Think of all the folks who live along shorelines and do not have access to drinking water.

If we can find an energy-efficient way to extract fresh water out of the ocean, we will be able to reverse the dilution happening due to melting of the polar ice cap, provide water for areas affected by drought and with self-powered irrigation systems turn deserts into arable land.

So the water companies... (1)

Tastecicles (1153671) | more than 5 years ago | (#25866779)

...now have an excuse to meter our dehumidifiers?

Re:So the water companies... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25866859)

Exactly. Like how the telecoms sue municipal WiFi initiatives for being unfair competition.

Needs better solar, but still inefficient (1)

proxima (165692) | more than 5 years ago | (#25866791)

My first thought (after, "it's a dehumidifier") was that combined with a nice array of solar panels this could be a self-sustaining water supply in remote areas.

Then I read the article to find:

The mill ceases to be effective below about 30 per cent relative humidity levels[...]

which rules out use in places where water is most hard to obtain. There's plenty of water in most places where humans live; the trouble is usually that it's undrinkable because of its salt content (ocean/sea water) or because it will make you sick. Desalination is a more efficient solution for the former and water filtration is more efficient for the latter.

That said, there's probably some small market for these things. The claim that the company "hopes will become the first mainstream household appliance to have been invented since the microwave" seems over the top.

That's not impressive at all (1)

Yvan256 (722131) | more than 5 years ago | (#25866795)

Water from wind? It's already been done.

Call me when we can extract wind from water.

Dont they already have these? (1)

moniker127 (1290002) | more than 5 years ago | (#25866851)

My uncle who lives up outside of mos eisley maintains a field of them.

Common sense (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25866869)

Okay folks we aren't going to all get our water this way. Where it gets interesting is if you live off the grid. There's a lot of land that doesn't have a reliable water source. It's not a cheap solution but it's an afordable one. If you're isolated and can't drill a well it's an attractive solution. Say you have a cabin in the woods a unit like this and a wind generator with storage tank could provide even enough for showers. If you use the cabin three months out of the year the unit could work year round to keep a large storage tank filled so it'd be available when needed. Another one is if you happen to live on a small island, I have considered it. One major problem is water. Here in Maine there are hundreds of small islands but a good share have water issues. Desert areas may not be the most practical for this approach but if you produced more than you needed it could be stored for drier times. I'm guessing a scaled up system would be more efficient a system 2X to 4X the cost could supply all water needs. If you're in the desert solar and possibly wind could provide power.

Is it the cheapest way to go? Possibly not but it could be a Godsend for fringe living. These days you can get phone, power, cable TV and even internet almost anywhere in the country but water isn't always available. Even coastal Florida has a massive problem brewing with sea water contaminating ground water. As they drain aquifers they tend to fill with sea water ruining them for household use. The water may be okay for toilets and even showers but you wouldn't want to drink it. A system like this could provide household water and help take the pressure off the city water system. If you have a 500K to 2 million dollar house a $1,200 machine doesn't seem that expensive. The southwest has a dire water problem. There will be rationing soon. It may be a far cheaper solution than trucking water in to use these machines in most houses and require them in new construction. If every house had one in wetter times of the year it could add tens of millions of gallons of water to the available water supply in a state like Arizona and even more in California where it is fairly humid especially along the coast. If every new house built in the last ten years had one the water situation in the southwest would be far less desperate.

Yes the extra power used will end the world. Ironically there may be less moisture in the southwest but there is plenty of sunlight. A couple of solar panels would offset any added power. Yes it might add 5K to the price of a new house but when you are talking average prices in the 350K range 5K isn't all that earth shattering. If all new houses were required to have solar electric, solar hot water and a system like this for water in the southwest a lot of the problems they are facing could be avoided entirely.

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