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Creating Water from Thin Air

Zonk posted more than 7 years ago | from the droid-that-understands-the-binary-language-of-moisture-vaporators dept.

348

Iphtashu Fitz writes "In order to provide the U.S. Military with water in places like Iraq, the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency gave millions of dollars in research funding to companies like LexCarb and Sciperio to try to extract water from the air. Amazingly, a company that DARPA didn't fund, Aqua Sciences, beat them all to the punch by developing a machine that can extract up to 600 gallons of water a day from thin air even in locations like arid deserts. The 20 foot machine does this without using or producing toxic materials or byproducts. The CEO of Aqua Sciences declined to elaborate on how the machine works, but said it is based on the natural process by which salt absorbs water."

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They did this in ancient times in the middle east (5, Informative)

spun (1352) | more than 7 years ago | (#16342119)

I recall reading an article about ancient rock mounds, where the rocks were loosely lumped with plenty of space in between. Air filtered through and encountered the cool rock faces of the interior of the mound. Water condensed on the interior rock faces and trickled out the bottom. I'll see if I can find a link.

Re:They did this in ancient times in the middle ea (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16342159)

A gallon of water every couple minutes? Sounds ridiculous! How big is this machine?

Re:They did this in ancient times in the middle ea (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16342411)

apparently 10,000 sq ft, 30-40ft tall. So yeah, like, McMansion-sized.

Re:They did this in ancient times in the middle ea (1)

kfg (145172) | more than 7 years ago | (#16342215)

Same thing happens on my windows in the winter.

KFG

Re:They did this in ancient times in the middle ea (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16342311)

So perhaps Moses hitting a rock and water coming out isn't so far-fetched?

Re:They did this in ancient times in the middle ea (1)

Meagermanx (768421) | more than 7 years ago | (#16342377)

Maybe it was a wet rock?

Re:They did this in ancient times in the middle ea (0, Troll)

fyngyrz (762201) | more than 7 years ago | (#16342471)

...maybe the liquid came after Moses was hit with the rock. Red water... imagine that. :)

Re:They did this in ancient times in the middle ea (1)

sm62704 (957197) | more than 7 years ago | (#16342615)

A lot of "far fetched" things in the bible are now explained; even the parting of the red sea (tsunami caused by the volcano that wiped out the Minoans, according to an art history class I took).

Of course, having physical explanations kinda takes some of the magic out.

Linky link (5, Informative)

spun (1352) | more than 7 years ago | (#16342357)

Here we are, [rexresearch.com] as promised. About a third of the way down the page. Ignore the Reichian weirdness, the wells were built near the ancient Byzantine city of Feodosiya. There were 13 large conical tumuli of stones, each about 10,000 feet square and 30-40 feet tall, on hilltops. Russian engineer Friedrich Zibold calculated they would each produce more than 500 gallons daily. These theories have been disputed by some archeologists (who don't seem to like it when engineers discover cool archeological stuff and make up theories about it) but the mounds do all have numerous terra-cotta pipes around the base, presumeably to collect the run off

Re:Linky link (0, Troll)

Jeremiah Cornelius (137) | more than 7 years ago | (#16342423)

Maybe if AquaSciences can sell this stuff to Israel, they won't try again to capture the Litani river in Lebanon...

Re:Linky link (-1, Troll)

soft_guy (534437) | more than 7 years ago | (#16342607)

Maybe if AquaSciences can sell this stuff to Israel, they won't try again to capture the Litani river in Lebanon...

Arabs are too stupid to know what to do with a river.

Re:Linky link (0)

Jeremiah Cornelius (137) | more than 7 years ago | (#16342679)

W'll remind the Egyptians and Mesopotamians, who began Western civilization on river-based water management, all about your "fact".

Re:Linky link (1)

kfg (145172) | more than 7 years ago | (#16342551)

These theories have been disputed by some archeologists (who don't seem to like it when engineers discover cool archeological stuff and make up theories about it)

My experience is it's best to bet on the engineers, but the jury's still out on that Sphinx age thingy. Thanks for the link. Some interesting weirdness in there. :)

KFG

We already have one of these... (5, Funny)

phekno (719662) | more than 7 years ago | (#16342137)

at my seitch.

Sincerely,
Muad'Dib

Frank Herbert was prescient (3, Interesting)

CRCulver (715279) | more than 7 years ago | (#16342225)

I was thinking of Dune [amazon.com] myself. Frank Herbert's notion that man could survive with such limited water supplies apparently wasn't entirely fantastical. However, IIRC no such device was used in the series. Instead, the Fremen relied on farming the naturally forming dew of the planet. Personally, after reading Kim Stanley Robinson's Mars trilogy, I wonder why Herbert never thought of having some Fremen just crash a few comets into the planet to at least provide some selected portion of it with water. Of course, that would have killed off all the sandworms.

Re:Frank Herbert was prescient (1)

KokorHekkus (986906) | more than 7 years ago | (#16342539)

...I wonder why Herbert never thought of having some Fremen just crash a few comets into the planet to at least provide some selected portion of it with water. Of course, that would have killed off all the sandworms.
Because the Fremen had enough trouble just bribing the Spacing Guild to keep them from putting up weather/surveillance satellites that would expose their way of life and their actual numbers? And of course killing of the sandworms in a short time would have killed off most of the Fremen as well with their melange addiction.

Re:Frank Herbert was prescient (1)

KokorHekkus (986906) | more than 7 years ago | (#16342613)

Sorry to reply to my own post but I forgot the fact that the Spacing Guild obviously would be totally against any action endagering the spice supply.

Re:Frank Herbert was prescient (2, Informative)

pete-classic (75983) | more than 7 years ago | (#16342547)

You recall incorrectly. Windtraps.

-Peter

Re:Frank Herbert was prescient (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16342629)

That wouldn't work, sandtrout absorbs all water on the surface, that's why Fremen reservoirs were in rock caves, and why all their water came from the air. By the way, Arrakis wasn't all that dry, as Liet-Kynes remarks.
  Yeap, I love Dune. My dream is to get a stillsuit and move to the desert (ok, some huge worms roaming around would be cool, too).

Re:Frank Herbert was prescient (1)

sm62704 (957197) | more than 7 years ago | (#16342639)

I was thinking of Dune myself.

Check the masthead - we were ALL thinking of Dune.

I wonder why Herbert never thought of having some Fremen just crash a few comets into the planet

Because the Guild Navigators wouldn't let them; they were powerful enough to keep the Emperor from having weather satellites.

Re:Frank Herbert was prescient (1)

CRCulver (715279) | more than 7 years ago | (#16342673)

The masthead references Star Wars, not Dune.

Re:Frank Herbert was prescient (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16342695)

after reading Kim Stanley Robinson's Mars trilogy, I wonder why Herbert never thought of having some Fremen just crash a few comets into the planet to at least provide some selected portion of it with water


It is probable that without the complicity of the Spacing Guild this would have been impossible, though the actual capabilities of the non-Guild ships are not necessarily known. Beyond the technical problems there would have been political implications among the Fremen themselves that would have made this solution difficult (as was seen in Dune Messiah and Children of Dune).

Did anyone else think of... (1)

daveschroeder (516195) | more than 7 years ago | (#16342139)

...this [memory-alpha.org] when they read this article? ;-)

Re:Did anyone else think of... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16342185)

I'm surprised no one refered to the ones used on Tatooine in Star Wars.

Re:Did anyone else think of... (1)

sm62704 (957197) | more than 7 years ago | (#16342657)

But... but... you just DID!

Someone contact the Fremen (3, Funny)

Verteiron (224042) | more than 7 years ago | (#16342141)

I'm sure they'll be interested.

Windtraps (1)

nitehawk214 (222219) | more than 7 years ago | (#16342143)

Sounds like the Windtraps from Frank Herbert's Dune.

However the article itself was about as descriptive of technology as Frank Herbert's novels. Here is a fun quote.


"This is our secret sauce," Sher said. "Like Kentucky Fried Chicken, it tastes good, but we won't tell you what's in it."

Re:Windtraps (1)

Vengeance (46019) | more than 7 years ago | (#16342179)

Ah, the dessert planet...

Re:Windtraps (2, Funny)

Amouth (879122) | more than 7 years ago | (#16342205)

who wants to bet it is a water tank? that has to be "serviced" to keep running :)

instant H20... (1)

tanverenzo (849273) | more than 7 years ago | (#16342175)

just add water! I keed, I keed.

It should work... (4, Funny)

ShadowBlasko (597519) | more than 7 years ago | (#16342177)

Just as long as the superconductors you use on your condensors are not vulnerable to a puppeteer plague.

If that happens its going to take a long time before Louis shows up.

I wonder... (1)

3seas (184403) | more than 7 years ago | (#16342181)

salt absorbtion of water and distillation of the salty water?

I guess the telling would be to see how may gallons of water it can produce while floating on a fresh water lake, and on teh salty sea.

Re:I wonder... (1)

kfg (145172) | more than 7 years ago | (#16342319)

I guess the telling would be to see how may gallons of water it can produce while floating on a fresh water lake, and on teh salty sea.

That's why this article caught my eye. I do bit of said floating myself and fresh uncontaminated water is a major problem.

Water, water everywhere, nor any drop to drink.

Give me a one foot cube that can suck 5 gallons a day out of 50% humidity air, without electricity, for a few cents a gallon and I'll be a happy floating camper.

KFG

Invented a long time ago, in a galaxy far away... (4, Funny)

bbk (33798) | more than 7 years ago | (#16342183)

Anyone heard of Tatooine's moisture farmers?

I thought so.

(sorry, it was just too obivious)

these vaporators you speak of... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16342503)

only work with the aid of very special power converters, conveniently available at Toshi Station.

Why the surprise? (3, Insightful)

Syncerus (213609) | more than 7 years ago | (#16342189)

What, you're shocked that all the government funded plodders were out done by a Capitalist independent? Government is very poor at creation and is typically very poor at selecting future winners in the technology race. That's why government should be a consumer of technology rather than a producer of the same.

Re:Why the surprise? (2, Insightful)

geekoid (135745) | more than 7 years ago | (#16342387)

thats simply not true.
Historically the government has been a great catalyst of techology inovation and improvements.

Considering that this company that has allegedly done this claims no byproducts and won't let anyone know how they did it.
color me Sceptical.

Gov't contributions (1, Insightful)

Harmonious Botch (921977) | more than 7 years ago | (#16342561)

Historically the government has been a great catalyst of techology inovation and improvements."

True. They make great contributions, using other people's money, aquired by force or the threat of force, and spent very wastefully. But when you can tax who cares about efficiency?

Today's Irony Moment (5, Insightful)

sterno (16320) | more than 7 years ago | (#16342603)

Government is very poor at creation and is typically very poor at selecting future winners in the technology race.

See also the Internet you're using to post your comment. Oh wait, DARPA created that, nevermind.

Good! (4, Interesting)

thefirelane (586885) | more than 7 years ago | (#16342193)

So the government failed to fund a company who promised unbelievable results with no byproducts while not supplying any details? I must say, I'm actually proud of them. Glad to see tax dollars aren't being wasted on Vaporware

Re:Good! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16342247)

Glad to see tax dollars aren't being wasted on Vaporware

Vaporware, ha!

Re:Good! (5, Funny)

Random Utinni (208410) | more than 7 years ago | (#16342655)

Glad to see tax dollars aren't being wasted on Vaporware


I thought Vaporware was the desired result here, no?

I have one of these in my car... (0, Troll)

Aqua_boy17 (962670) | more than 7 years ago | (#16342195)

It's called an 'air conditioner'. Seriously, taking humidity out of the air is news?

Re:I have one of these in my car... (2)

Verteiron (224042) | more than 7 years ago | (#16342243)

The difference is that this will operate down to 14% humidity. So in other words, you could stick it in the desert and keep the troops watered.

You could distribute it to villages with bad water sources.

In fact... this thing could be a pretty big deal if it's cheap enough to produce.

Re:I have one of these in my car... (2, Informative)

Yartrebo (690383) | more than 7 years ago | (#16342419)

It's pretty much a reusable desiccant - and in the best case (probably using reverse osmosis) the energy cost will be about an order of magnitude worse than desalinization plants. It even says in the article that the cost is 30 cents a gallon (which is probably highly optimistic and certainly cannot be verified without full disclosure from the company). At 30 cents a gallon (or perhaps 3 dollars a gallon when you're operating it in field conditions) you could forget about serving any sort of civilian market, and even for military use it would be quite expensive.

Water is great (4, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16342199)

Is there a button to switch it from 'water' to 'beer?'

Re:Water is great (2, Funny)

Rik Sweeney (471717) | more than 7 years ago | (#16342369)

Is there a button to switch it from 'water' to 'beer?'

I called Jesus, he said that he can do water into wine... will that do?

Re:Water is great (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16342687)

They haven't perfected that yet, but I'd gladly volunteer myself to help convert beer to water.

In the interest of science, of course.

Dune comes to life... (1)

DESADE (104626) | more than 7 years ago | (#16342201)

This sound like a Windtrap to anyone else. I love it when something I read about in a sci-fi book 20 years ago comes to life in a practical application.

Fear is the mind killer...

Re:Dune comes to life... (1)

thefirelane (586885) | more than 7 years ago | (#16342235)

I love it when something I read about in a sci-fi book 20 years ago comes to life in a practical application.

You won't be so chipper when you are drinking your recycled urine and feces through a straw in 2026.

Re:Dune comes to life... (1)

DESADE (104626) | more than 7 years ago | (#16342257)

Uh... tap water???

Now, will I need... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16342213)

...a droid that understands the binary language of these "moisture vaporators"?

Ahead of their time... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16342249)

Now we need some protocol droids who can speak the binary language of these moisture vaporators.

Or at least ones who can talk to binary load-lifters that are similar in most respects.

hm (5, Informative)

inKubus (199753) | more than 7 years ago | (#16342251)

Sounds like they probably use a hydroscopic [wikipedia.org] compound such as calcium chloride [wikipedia.org] and then you some type of ion replacement to recover the water (precipitate calcium metal and some other non-soluable salt, such as Fe(III)Cl.

Re:hm (3, Funny)

hchaos (683337) | more than 7 years ago | (#16342379)

Sounds like they probably use a hydroscopic compound such as calcium chloride and then you some type of ion replacement to recover the water (precipitate calcium metal and some other non-soluable salt, such as Fe(III)Cl.
Quick! To the Patent Office! That'll teach them to keep their methods secret.

Re:hm (1)

Marxist Hacker 42 (638312) | more than 7 years ago | (#16342385)

Ok, but then wouldn't they have to keep resupplying chemicals to the machine at 1/1200th the volume of the water extracted? Or am I reading those articles wrong?

Seems to me, the key word would be SUSTAINABLE- a solar powered refridgeration radiator would be more sustainable.

Re:hm (5, Informative)

c4miles (249464) | more than 7 years ago | (#16342403)

The word you're looking for is Hygroscopic. From the article you linked to:

The similar sounding but unrelated word hydroscopic is sometimes used in error for hygroscopic. A hydroscope is an optical device used for making observations deep under water.

A related word, deliquescent, refers to substances so hygroscopic they will dissolve themselves using water absorbed from the air.

Lithium [Chloride|Bromide], probably (3, Interesting)

comingstorm (807999) | more than 7 years ago | (#16342597)

It sucks the moisture out of the air, then you heat it up and evaporate the water, leaving the salts behind to be reused.

The great thing about is, all you need is a heat source. You can either burn fuel, or use waste heat coming off a turbine, or even use solar energy -- you need temperatures above boiling, but not too much higher.

This is the same stuff they use for solar-powered heat pumps, except there they use a closed loop system, and evaporate the water at low pressure to get air conditioning.

Uncle Owen! (4, Funny)

norminator (784674) | more than 7 years ago | (#16342261)

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

Correction (1)

norminator (784674) | more than 7 years ago | (#16342307)

Actually, what I really need is a quicker brain so I won't have to google for the quote, taking valuable time, allowing a dozen other slashdotters to post the same lame joke. Sorry everybody.

Re:Correction (1)

Chosen Reject (842143) | more than 7 years ago | (#16342443)

I can't decide which is worse: That you were geeky enough to think of the joke, or that you weren't geeky enough to remember the quote.

Re:Uncle Owen! (1)

HaloZero (610207) | more than 7 years ago | (#16342495)

Why sir! My very first job was programming binary load lifters - very similar to your vaporators in most respects...

Just add water! (5, Funny)

quarrel (194077) | more than 7 years ago | (#16342285)

Asked to clarify how it worked, the CEO noted- "Just add water, and in a few minutes it'll be ready!".

--Q

And remember kids... (1)

Kenja (541830) | more than 7 years ago | (#16342309)

sucking all the moisture out of the environment will have no impact on the eco system, right?

Re:And remember kids... (1)

Max_Abernethy (750192) | more than 7 years ago | (#16342407)

Well, it's excreted back into the environment within a few hours, so...no, I don't think it will.

Re:And remember kids... (2, Insightful)

kfg (145172) | more than 7 years ago | (#16342461)

sucking all the moisture out of the environment will have no impact on the eco system, right?

Pretty much, since you pretty much put it right back in. That's why you need so much of it in the desert. And why there's so little eco system there to damage.

How much water gets used up when you flush a toilet? That's right. None. There's no water shortage, it's a question of purity and distribution, not quantity.

KFG

The world needs fresh water. (2, Insightful)

cowscows (103644) | more than 7 years ago | (#16342317)

If this technology really works as well as is advertised, how bout the government does something with it a bit more productive than sending a bunch to the army? Like maybe buying thousands of these things and shipping them to many of the different places in the world where a lack access to fresh water is one of the most pressing health concerns of millions of people.

It's good that our soldiers are out in the middle east doing their jobs, and they deserve fresh water too. But seeing the general anger towards the US that's prevelant in so much of the world right now, actually helping people with something like this would generate tremendous good will. It'd probably be a lot cheaper than our wars are as well.

Re:The world needs fresh water. (4, Insightful)

synth7 (311220) | more than 7 years ago | (#16342521)

Who is going to provide the guards for these condensers, because you know that the local warlords and privileged will abscond with them as another source of wealth and power. There's more than just buying the equipment, there is maintenance and policing, just to name the obvious manpower needs.

Re:The world needs fresh water. (2, Insightful)

couchslug (175151) | more than 7 years ago | (#16342653)

Giving people free stuff does not address ideological conflict.
If an ideological opponent gave ME free stuff in hope that I could be bribed, I'd thank the nice man and then use it against him.
If someone to whom I was indifferent gave me free stuff, I would thank the nice man and then question their motive.

IANAAS(Atmospheric Scientist) (1)

AdamKG (1004604) | more than 7 years ago | (#16342325)

600 gallons of water a day? Impressive.

Absolute humidity is measured in kilograms per cubic meter. A number pulled equally out of my ass and google as a possible ballpark typical one is .050 kg/m^3. 600 gallons of water is (roughly) 2200 litres, or 2200 kilograms. That means it's using 44000 cubic meters of air.

IANAAS, so I don't have any idea what that translates into real-world. Would this thing need a fan?

Wait... (1)

Codename46 (889058) | more than 7 years ago | (#16342335)

Won't extracting water from the air decrease the humidity even further, producing an ever DRIER climate?

Re:Wait... (1)

clean_stoner (759658) | more than 7 years ago | (#16342485)

I'll tell you something my engineering profs are fond of telling me: the effect is negligible, so you can ignore it.

Re:Wait... (2, Informative)

boarder (41071) | more than 7 years ago | (#16342571)

The water will be consumed by soldiers who will breathe it out, sweat it out and urinate it out. The breath, sweat and urine will all evaporate the water back into the air. This is essentially a closed system with some losses which are overcome by adding energy into they system.

Dehydrated water... (1)

Akaihiryuu (786040) | more than 7 years ago | (#16342343)

...just add water, and you've got water! That reminded me of the original Space Quest. The survival kit you get in that game has a can of dehydrated water. Although if you actually examine the can, it says it contains hydrogen, which becomes water when mixed with air. Since the game was intended more or less as comedy, they didn't take into account that hydrogen + oxygen = water is a rather exothermic reaction, it burns hot and releases a lot of heat, and the water that is produced is produced as steam. Producing water from "thin air" is just condensation. People have been condensing water vapor from the air (even in desert regions) for a very long time now, this is hardly anything new. At most, it's merely an increase in efficiency.

Finally... (4, Funny)

Mantrid42 (972953) | more than 7 years ago | (#16342363)

Some good Vaporware!

gallons... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16342367)

developing a machine that can extract up to 600 gallons of water a day from thin air even in locations like arid deserts.

And it probably needs 600 gallons of diesel a day to do it.

Reusable Jokes (2, Insightful)

zulater (635326) | more than 7 years ago | (#16342375)

Now I just need a droid that understands the binary language of moisture vaporators. Oh sorry, I thought every comment was supposed to have that joke in it.

errr you can buy them (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16342389)

not surprising (2, Informative)

z3d4r (598419) | more than 7 years ago | (#16342415)

this is coming from an australian company, seeing as australia is both the most arid continent and largest desert island in the world.

Re:not surprising (2, Informative)

MostAwesomeDude (980382) | more than 7 years ago | (#16342619)

Actually, if we're going by humidity as an indicator of available water, Antartica's far more desert-like. It's also bigger.

Re:not surprising (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16342677)

The company is based in Miami Beach, Florida, USA.

http://www.aquasciences.com/ [aquasciences.com]

Simple Government-Economics (1, Informative)

finkployd (12902) | more than 7 years ago | (#16342427)

The DARPA funded companies did not have the same motivation as the other one. It is in their best interest to keep making slow progress and asking for more money everytime they have a little breakthrough. The successful company had no such money train. It was in their best interest to actually PRODUCE RESULTS in order to patent, market, and sell the technolohy. Funny how that works huh?

Finkployd

Shelf life? (1)

dannycim (442761) | more than 7 years ago | (#16342433)

Quote from the article: "It seems like it's a cheaper alternative to trucking in bottled water, which has a shelf life," said Rowe, who described himself as a fiscal hawk.

Wow, according to this guy, water can spoil. I'll be! >

I can't believe no one (1)

geekoid (135745) | more than 7 years ago | (#16342445)

has posted anything about moisture vaporators.

ERR (1)

riff420 (810435) | more than 7 years ago | (#16342465)

Motherfucker, Pauly Shore already TOOK CARE of that shit. Haven't you seen "In The Army Now"? Find it in the Documentary section your local movie rental place of choice, yo.

Water, water, in the air (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16342505)

And all I want to drink.

This just in.. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16342507)

It's called a humidifier - and just the thought gets me all giddy inside (excited, even) with the sheer amount of H20 it produces. It's almost (as if, if only, perhaps, well ok) magic-like! Whence there was no water - suddenly there is - (you guessed it) clear, refreshing, natural, soothing water! It -is- awesome in the truest sense of the word! So much in fact, that I must utter it yet again - "Truly Awesome" ;-)

Who needs the 10th dimension when you've got a humidifier! The universe knows no bounds.

Some points to consider... (2, Interesting)

Rockinsockindune (956375) | more than 7 years ago | (#16342513)

To make this work and be cost effective in reality these things have to continue to be cheap to run. A few things the article doesn't mention are:
  1. Does it require electricity, if so how much?
  2. Do the chemicals used in the condensation need to be replenished? If so, how often, how much potable water can be generated per load of chemicals, what is the cost of the chemicals?

thin air? (0, Redundant)

rvaniwaa (136502) | more than 7 years ago | (#16342519)

So, they tested this at altitude? Like Mount Everest [google.com]

Serious questions ... (5, Insightful)

Shadowlore (10860) | more than 7 years ago | (#16342537)

Question1 L How inept are the congressional people in Washington DC?

"I was pretty blown away by the things it's able to do," Rowe said. "The fact that this technology is not tied to humidity like others are makes it an attractive alternative for military bases in the Mideast where humidity is not really an option.


Yet further down ...
Aqua Sciences' machines only require 14 percent humidity,


Anybody with half a brain knows that there has to be some humidity in the air in order to extract water. Wait, that explains it. ;) Moving on.

While it is an accomplishment to reduce the humidity requirement, it doe not eliminate it. Indeed given their claim of up to 600 gal/day I'd say that at the minimum required humidity of 14%, it is possible that they may require far more of them than is talked about. A key factor is how rapidly that output drops when the humidity levels drop. if it porduces 600 gal/day at optimum humidity levels, it may only put out say 10 gal/day. If that were the case you could not rely on this for troop support in such areas. A supplemental, sure.

Depending on the size and maintenance requirements, as well as the phsyical inputs other than air, it may not be cost effective to use these in more arid regions. Now, places like the southern US they would be quite useful.

What I'd like to know is the size and power requirements. Something like this could be quite useful in high-rise buildings. Pumping water to the upper levels requires a significant amount of power. If instead we could put a few of these on tops of buildings and use them to bring water down, we might see a net win in terms of supply and energy usage. Imagine places like Phoenix or Las Vegas.

Pheonix has an average daily humidity of about 55% IIRC. Thus it would stand to reason that these units could pump out their maximum output. Depending on their size and power requirements, several of these atop an office building in Phoenix could produce several thousand gallons per building. As office buildings their water requirements might be low enough to satisfy with these units. They would have the further advantage of dehumidifying the hot air of Phoenix, thus possibly resulting in a slight cooling load reduction.

Even small residential units could be tremendously benefited. The average person requires 125 gal/day. Thus one of these could supply the water needs (not counting grass lawns) of a family of four in Phoenix. If the house is designed with greywater and systems for landscaping purposes it is possible that one of these could fully supply the average water requirement of a family of four in Phoenix. Which leads to the question .. how much are they to acquire and operate?

Anyone from Phoneix care to share how much you pay for water? If you've got a spouse and a pair of kids, and this unit eliminated your water usage bill (there would still be sewage), how much would it save you per year?

40,000 of these units in Phoenix would drop the summer daily demand for water by 24Mgal/day, or 5-12% depending on the season (Summer to Winter).

Essentially, if this proved cost effective then the more arid parts of the country might be able to make large savings on their infrastructure and supply costs. Which would be yet another miltary requested technology applied to positive civilian use.

The next question is: does it scale up and down? Can it be scaled down to be an effective one-person supply? Do larger units demonstrate a better-than-linear increase in water production?

Combine this with greywater systems, solar thermal heating (water and home), and appropriate landscaping and we would be a long ways toward a more sustainable system - without major changes and reductions to our standard of living.

Diesel? (1)

davidc (91400) | more than 7 years ago | (#16342541)

From Aqua Sciences's website:-

Machines may be powered by electricity or a self-contained diesel generator and are environmentally friendly due to lower energy requirements and no harmful or toxic by-products.

So it's not, in fact, "no by products", it's "low by products". Although how Diesel emissions can be considered non-toxic is beyond me.

Iraq needs water? (1)

wsanders (114993) | more than 7 years ago | (#16342545)

1/4 the country was swampland before Saddam screwed that up, another quarter is snowy mountains, and two of the mideast's biggest rivers flow right through the place, although Turkey's in the process of gobbling those up.

If the damn fools would stop blowing up their own water and power plants, they'd have plenty of water.

Air conditioners? (1)

sm62704 (957197) | more than 7 years ago | (#16342573)

The 20 foot machine does this without using or producing toxic materials or byproducts.

So does my AC. Not 300 gallons though, but if it were 20 feet long and used a few hundred lilowatts it might.

Several systems on the market can create water through condensation, but the process requires a high level of humidity.

Or a high level of wattage? TFA is completely absent on details about how it works.

I know a SERE instructor... (5, Informative)

rampant mac (561036) | more than 7 years ago | (#16342609)

I hang out with a SERE [wikipedia.org] instructor and do a lot of camping / hiking / ORV riding where I'm sometimes far away from reliable potable water. He gave me some pretty cool information about how to obtain water from your surroundings:

1) Water from plants is always drinkable. I'm talking about water from the root system, not some stagnant water you could slurp out of a recess between branches. The easiest way is to take a large trash bag, grab a cluster of branches and put the bag around them (make sure the open end of the trash bag is tightly sealed to prevent air from going into the enclosed bunch). It forces the tree to "sweat" water from its root system. After about 24 hours you can slit the bottom of the bag and drain it into a nalgene bottle. You can only do one group of branches per 24 hour period, so you need to use different trees to gather water. I tried it out when I was in Eastern Oregon (which, for all intents and purposes, is an inland desert) and averaged about 1 liter of water per 24 hours. I had 6 trash bags that I normally have in my hiking ruck, so I could feasibly harvest 6 liters per day if I was SOL somewhere.

2) A cluster of birch trees usually means there's water underground.

3) Any multi-celled berry (ie: raspberry) is edible.

Anyway, I thought it was pretty cool shit, and informative. :)

thin air? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16342647)

OMG.....that means..... There is such a thing as fat air!?!?!

ARPA involvement (1)

zitintheass (1005533) | more than 7 years ago | (#16342671)

Now hope they will not lock-down the technology for them exclusively.

don't even think about using this crap in africa! (0, Troll)

urbieta (212354) | more than 7 years ago | (#16342701)

There are millions of people dying because of contaminated water or no water at all, and the first to get this new SO CALLED "machine that get water from air" (I must see before I believe) are for WAR? the gates foundation should check first if this exists, and then spend a couple billions arround the world :)
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