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Water From Wind

kdawson posted more than 7 years ago | from the and-power-too dept.

Power 411

ghostcorps recommends a writeup in The Australian by columnist Phillip Adams about a new windmill design that extracts water from air. The article gives few details of how it works, because patent protection is not yet in place, but what is revealed sounds promising. "[Max] Whisson's design has many blades, each as aerodynamic as an aircraft wing, and each employing 'lift' to get the device spinning... They don't face into the wind like a conventional windmill; they're arranged vertically, within an elegant column, and take the wind from any direction... The secret of Max's design is how his windmills, whirring away in the merest hint of a wind, cool the air as it passes by... With three or four of Max's magical machines on hills at our farm we could fill the tanks and troughs, and weather the drought. One small Whisson windmill on the roof of a suburban house could keep your taps flowing. Biggies on office buildings, whoppers on skyscrapers, could give independence from the city's water supply. And plonk a few hundred in marginal outback land — specifically to water tree-lots — and you could start to improve local rainfall."

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Interested.... (5, Interesting)

SQLGuru (980662) | more than 7 years ago | (#17817170)

Things I would like to know:

1. Does this design perform better than other windmill designs (for generation).
2. What will this do to the atmospheric conditions?
3. If everyone has one....will it no longer rain?

Layne

Re:Interested.... (3, Interesting)

SQLGuru (980662) | more than 7 years ago | (#17817262)

Oh, and if you put the windmill high enough, can you also generate considerable electricity with the water as gravity brings it down to the ground?

Layne

Re:Interested.... (3, Interesting)

misleb (129952) | more than 7 years ago | (#17817670)

I'm guessing that it is more of a constant trickle. Doubt it would generate much electricity. Might as well try to build a dam at the curb of your street to generate electricity from teh water flowing into the sewers :P

-matthew

Re:Interested.... (4, Informative)

UbuntuDupe (970646) | more than 7 years ago | (#17817348)

Disclaimer: just my guesses:

1. Does this design perform better than other windmill designs (for generation).

No; conventional windmills have long been designed to extract the maximum amount of mechanical work from the air. This new windmill is not designed to do that, and works the same in any wind direction.

2. What will this do to the atmospheric conditions?

Small decrease in humidity.

3. If everyone has one....will it no longer rain?

It will still rain. The windmills couldn't possibly collect all evaporating air in a short radius. Even if they did, clouds call still blow in from over oceans and lakes.

Is This Similar To: +1, Informative (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17817350)

Please correct your story title. Wind DOES NOT have ANY water.

BushCo extracting Peace from Iraq [whitehouse.org] ?

Patriotistically,
Kilgore Trout

Re:Interested.... (1)

purpledinoz (573045) | more than 7 years ago | (#17817392)

I would also like to know how this works. Any speculations here?

Here's my theory: It uses the power generated from the windmill to run some sort of cooling mechanism to cool the blades, which then causes condensation on the blades, where the water will trickle down into some container.

Re:Interested.... (1)

Marxist Hacker 42 (638312) | more than 7 years ago | (#17817546)

My theory, based on the hints in the article, is that the blades themselves cool a central condensing tower, which collects the water. Power generation for pumping the water beyond that is just a bonus, it's the whirling blades themselves that cool the air (you'll see the same thing on the bottom of airplane wings).

Re:Interested.... (1)

purpledinoz (573045) | more than 7 years ago | (#17817746)

it's the whirling blades themselves that cool the air (you'll see the same thing on the bottom of airplane wings).
What's the mechanism that causes the air to cool? I understand that when moving air contacts skin, the moisture in the skin evaporates quicker, removing more heat, making it feel cooler. But wouldn't the friction between the moving air and the blade cause the temperature to increase? BTW, I'm no scientist, so I might just be talking out of my a$$.

Re:Interested.... (3, Informative)

jcr (53032) | more than 7 years ago | (#17817932)

What's the mechanism that causes the air to cool?

TFA doesn't say, but there's a couple of ways it could be done. Just dropping air pressure would tend to cool the air somewhat, and that will happen on the leeward side of any airfoil moving through the atmosphere. When aircraft fly into icing conditions, the ice tends to collect on the upper surfaces of the wings where the air pressure is lower.

One other possibility is using a windmill to drive a Sterling-cycle engine. That will pump heat from one cylinder to the other, and water will condense on the cool side.

-jcr

Re:Interested.... (5, Funny)

general_re (8883) | more than 7 years ago | (#17817776)

I would also like to know how this works. Any speculations here?
I understand these moisture vaporators are similar to binary load-lifters. Get the right droid to program them, and you're good to go.

Re:Interested.... (2, Insightful)

Rei (128717) | more than 7 years ago | (#17817938)

Here's my theory: this tech is as relevant as the "tree power" concept posted last year. Way too much hype for a device with way too few details from an inventor with no credits to his name generally means there's nothing there of substance.

Prove my speculation wrong, Adams and Whisson. Please, prove me wrong.

Re:Interested.... (4, Insightful)

spun (1352) | more than 7 years ago | (#17817520)

Things I would like to know:

Phillip Adams, this guy Max Whisson is your longtime friend. You give no details about how his device works, yet you ask for people to invest money with him. Is this a scam? You say you already have investors, yet you haven't managed to get a patent on this device yet, and so you need to keep the details secret. Why should we think this is anythign but a scam?

Re:Interested.... (4, Funny)

Chris Mattern (191822) | more than 7 years ago | (#17817630)

> Why should we think this is anythign but a scam?

So, what you're trying to say is:

[Morbo]
"Windmills do not work that way!"
[/Morbo]

Chris Mattern

Re:Interested.... (1)

jmorris42 (1458) | more than 7 years ago | (#17817886)

> Why should we think this is anythign but a scam?

Even better, this quote from the last paragraph:

" ...and the Whissons need some initial government funding to get their ideas off the ground."

Sure sign of a scam, when they know even the idiot investors, who will fall for pyramid schemes and MLM scams, won't buy in the scammers ALWAYS demand the government 'invest' in a new tech that will "save the world."

No, if the tech is real and has the potential of being buildable at a cost effective price private investors will be found, if not why should the Austrailian taxpayers be fleeced for yet another white elephant project?

Of course the next sentence gives it away....

"For the price of one of John Howard's crappy nuclear reactors, Max might be able to solve a few problems."

Just another deranged green who has an irrational fear of the N word who would rather see the money pissed away on a pet project instead of actually solving the problem of dependence on non renewable energy sources often from unstable despotic countires.

Re:Interested.... (1)

AnnoyedDroid (1057688) | more than 7 years ago | (#17817624)

I would hope that it does not have adverse effects. This could be one of those things that with minor adoption, could have negligible impact. I can see how, with widespread use, it could possibly have an effect. I am, however, not an environmental scientist, so I can't work out the figures.

However, and this is all conjecture, could it be self-balancing? For example, if everyone used these to provide water to their home, wouldn't our current sources of water be used less? If we stop taking, say, a million gallons of water out of a lake a year, and instead take it from the air, the lakes would have more. The lake water may stay constant and assist the surrounding ecosystem.

Again, I'm not a scientist who can make accurate determinations. I can only throw out what seems logical, and hope someone corrects me.

Re:Interested.... (1)

blugu64 (633729) | more than 7 years ago | (#17817798)

If we pull water out of the sky, and stop pulling it from lakes wouldn't that lead to higher evaporation rates? and thus us still pulling water from the lakes, albeit indirectly?

Re:Interested.... (1)

AnnoyedDroid (1057688) | more than 7 years ago | (#17817910)

I thought the same thing myself. But, and again, I'm no environmental scientist, I considered the surface area compared to volume of the lake. If a lake rises a few feet, I would assume the surface area does not increase proportionately. Therefore, for water increased, the evaporation rate, which I assume is tied somewhat to surface area, would not increase in a proportionate manner. We would have more evaporation, yet it would still be an overall gain. Also, I considered the idea that with an increase in volume, the water temperature would decrease, even if only a little, due to having more water to heat. A lower temperature would inhibit, at least a little, evaporation.

As I am keen to state, I am only stating what seems logical to my uneducated (at least on this subject) mind. Someone please correct me if I am wrong.

Re:Interested.... (1)

Wandering Wombat (531833) | more than 7 years ago | (#17817948)

See, this is why wind power can't power all of humanity's needs.


Firstly, to get that much power would, quite literally, suck the energy from the atmosphere, and would really start to mess with global weather, changing jet streams and such. Secondly, this method sucks water from the air, which would no doubt have a much faster, and more drastic, effect on the weather. There has not been any large-scale long-term testing of this, which I would recommend before we start putting them up everywhere, and changing where the winds blow when the seasons change.

Dune (4, Funny)

RAMMS+EIN (578166) | more than 7 years ago | (#17817172)

Wow. Reminds me of the Windtraps from Frank Herbert's Dune.

Next thing you know, we'll be harvesting spice.

Re:Dune (3, Funny)

thhamm (764787) | more than 7 years ago | (#17817284)

Next thing you know, we'll be harvesting spice.

yeah, then we'll knock it up another notch, and give it a big blast from our spice weasel [geocities.com] ! BAM!

Re:Dune (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17817434)

As long as we're trying to cram as many sci-fi things as possible into this...

Admirak Akbar: "It's a windtrap!"

Re:Dune (1)

Dachannien (617929) | more than 7 years ago | (#17817330)

Next thing you know, we'll be harvesting spice. ........The spice must flow.

Re:Dune (1)

UbuntuDupe (970646) | more than 7 years ago | (#17817422)

Harvest spice? But I wanted to go down to the Toshi station to pick up some power converters!!!!!!!

Re:Dune (1)

nsayer (86181) | more than 7 years ago | (#17817818)

Next thing you know, we'll be harvesting spice.

We already are [wikipedia.org] .

Free Dry Land! (4, Interesting)

nbannerman (974715) | more than 7 years ago | (#17817180)

Excellent, so now anyone living near, but not in a city can enjoy a barren landscape when the rain no longer falls.

Alright, sarcasm aside, surely there are bound to be some less-than-good effects on the surrounding enviroment if large amounts of water are 'sucked' out of the atmosphere prematurely?

Re:Free Dry Land! (1)

andy314159pi (787550) | more than 7 years ago | (#17817360)

like CO2, water vapor traps IR emission from the ground, so this could potentially be used to improve radiative cooling during the night in very humid environments.

Re:Free Dry Land! (3, Interesting)

Aqua_boy17 (962670) | more than 7 years ago | (#17817476)

I was originally inclined to agree with you, until I thought about the fact that populated areas already interfere with the environment to a noticable degree. You have air conditioners making the outdoor air warmer and removing humidity. You have concrete and pavement that artificially hold heat way after sundown and much longer than normal soil would, and on and on.

I can't see how a few hundred of these things, placed strategically would have any more of a negative impact than these factors. In fact, they could potentially be a sort of a civilization mitigator in a way. Someone please correct me if my thinking is wrong here.

Re:Free Dry Land! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17817530)

A couple less mm of rain per rainfall. Just guessing. Or maybe the vapor pressure will be a teensy weensy bit out of equilibrium, at least until our cisterns are full.

Or maybe... THE SKY WILL FALL! We'd be indirectly sucking the earth dry! (Until our cisterns are full.)

Re:Free Dry Land! (1)

aeryn_sunn (243533) | more than 7 years ago | (#17817768)

Same Galaxy, Not-in-the-too-distant-future ... Somewhere in the Great Victorian Desert

Uncle Dundee: Oy! have you seen bloody Max this mornin?
Aunt Maxine: Aye, he said that he had some things to do before he started, so the wanker left early.
Uncle Dundee: Did he take those two new bloody droids with him?
Aunt Maxine: Aye matey.
Uncle Dundee: Well, that nong better have those bloody [wind-to-water] units in the South Ridge repaired by m'day, or there'll be bloody hell to pay . . . give me a vegemite wench!

Re:Free Dry Land! (1)

archen (447353) | more than 7 years ago | (#17817770)

I suppose that sort of depends on the scale and location of these things. If people live near (but not in) a city that's usually a suburb in the U.S. That means that people take cars to work which produce CO2 and.. water. Even if we go to hydrogen cars we're producing water as a byproduct.

Personally I would think it would be better for the environment if we better utilized/recycled water from the surface/ocean. Mainly because this means humans are required to remove the contamination that we most likely put there.

Green Brainwashing ... (1)

Syncerus (213609) | more than 7 years ago | (#17817828)

What does it say about your values that your first reaction to a potentially revolutionary invention is negative? I'm not saying that the windmill technology works; quite frankly, I'd bet that it doesn't. That said, any device that can extract water vapor from air with any degree of efficiency could have a revolutionary effect on the dryer areas of the globe. Africa in particular could benefit from this type of device in a very serious way. Consider just how profound the consequences of this device could be for sub-Saharan Africa, if it's economically viable.

You should be pleased by the discovery of this invention. Your initial reaction shouldn't be that the extraction of a few gallons of water vapor per day will bring about the end of the world.

Think about it.

Re:Green Brainwashing ... (1)

nbannerman (974715) | more than 7 years ago | (#17817908)

What does it say about my values? Well, it says that I'm aware that initially promising technology could have a rather devasting affect on enviroments that we're already messing with. Time and time again, 'progress' has resulting in some frankly appalling effects on the environment, and I value that environment enough to ask the question. Better to ask and stand corrected, than not ask, surely?

Consider just how profound the consequences of this device could be for sub-Saharan Africa, if it's economically viable.

If this does work, and it doesn't make a bad situation worse, what does it say about your values if you would only consider the device if it was economically sound?

Re:Free Dry Land! (2, Insightful)

thehickcoder (620326) | more than 7 years ago | (#17817892)

I think there is a misconception in the way I have seen many people think of "using" water. We use it but we don't "use it up." There is with small exceptions almost the same amount of water on the planet as there was thousands or ten thousands of years ago. The problem is that in some areas not enough of it is in a form we can use (water vapor, salt water, ice, etc.) This device simply converts it from a form we can't use to one we can.
We then can use it and it flows down the drain/comes off our skin as sweat/is pissed out behind the bushes where it can evaporate and then re-enter the water cycle. I don't see this "drying out" the areas around it.

Re:Free Dry Land! (1)

nbannerman (974715) | more than 7 years ago | (#17817950)

'Using it up' is probably a bad way of saying 'removing it from the atmosphere earlier than normal'. Imagine you own a farm, and you require a certain amount of rainfall per annum for your crops. If the big city 40 miles away invests in this technology and does (and obviously we've got no real idea what the large scale effects are yet) disrupt your annual rainfall, you've got to find that water from elsewhere. You could use the local river, but then you have to deal with irrigation etc.

The water never disappears or is used up, but this device could certainly affect the way you 'get' that water.

Beneficial for the Environment (1)

soren100 (63191) | more than 7 years ago | (#17817960)

Alright, sarcasm aside, surely there are bound to be some less-than-good effects on the surrounding enviroment if large amounts of water are 'sucked' out of the atmosphere prematurely?

Sure it can have a negative effect on the environment, just like the negative effects from the millions of cars on the road daily.

It can also have a very positive effect on the environment -- Mosquitoes breed in stagnant pools of water, and they transmit Malaria [wikipedia.org] , which kills millions of people every year.

Global warming has increased the spread of malaria, for which there is no vaccine. Right now it kills people mainly in sub-saharan Africa, although it causes 350 million to 500 million infections in a broad swath around the equator, and as the world warms it is spreading farther north.

Right now fresh water is becoming really scarce, too, -- China is having a huge groundwater crisis [worldwatch.org] as their pollution is contaminating their groundwater supplies. Their huge demand for water is sucking water out of the ground and sucking the pollution into the major underground aquifers.

There are a lot of places where the water table is seriously being lowered because of our greed for water, and this is causing real problems, in the California, Texas, and India amnong many other places where the water table has been lowered hundreds of feet. The ground can subside because of loss of support from the water table, and seawater can start contaminating it, rendering wells useless. Conserving our groundwater [wikipedia.org] can be tremendously helpful.

Something for nothing? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17817184)

Seems pretty obvious that if one of these things actually can extract the moisture from the air passing by, whatver's downwind is going to get even less than would otherwise be the case.

Something doesn't add up... (1)

ClayJar (126217) | more than 7 years ago | (#17817192)

"...plonk a few hundred in marginal outback land -- specifically to water tree-lots -- and you could start to improve local rainfall."

So, condensing water from the air to water trees, from which some of the water will transpire back to the atmosphere, might improve local rainfall? Is that like the "lose money on every sale, but we make it up in volume" line? :)

Re:Something doesn't add up... (5, Interesting)

Marxist Hacker 42 (638312) | more than 7 years ago | (#17817310)

So, condensing water from the air to water trees, from which some of the water will transpire back to the atmosphere, might improve local rainfall? Is that like the "lose money on every sale, but we make it up in volume" line? :)

No, it's more that this windmill does what trees in a rainforest are already doing. Israel noticed this some time ago, and spent most of the 1960s and 1970s on something similar, though theirs was based on water pumped out of salinated lakes and the Medditeranian, and placed in desalination tanks. The fresh water was used for tree farms, that created more rainfall by cooling the air.

Therefore, the windmill in this situation is just a placeholder for what the trees will do anyway once they're mature enough.

Re:Something doesn't add up... (3, Insightful)

drinkypoo (153816) | more than 7 years ago | (#17817314)

So, condensing water from the air to water trees, from which some of the water will transpire back to the atmosphere, might improve local rainfall?

Trees improve local rainfall, because they affect weather (slow it down, for one thing.)

Deforestation has had horrendous effects on global weather. You might have noticed that the Amazon is drying up...

Re:Something doesn't add up... (1)

PHPfanboy (841183) | more than 7 years ago | (#17817326)

tropical rainforests create their own clouds and rainfall this way, this is one of the reasons that cutting them down creates dustbowls

Re:Something doesn't add up... (1)

Doctor Memory (6336) | more than 7 years ago | (#17817344)

Yeah, that was exactly my reaction. Unless said areas get a fair amount of wind that might bring in moisture from a larger area, I don't see this working (you might water the trees, but I don't see you generating any rain). And as someone else said, the areas downwind will be paying the price.

Hmmn, implied refrigeration (5, Insightful)

davecb (6526) | more than 7 years ago | (#17817196)

Anything that creates lift creates a lower pressure, which in turn refrigerates, and eventually induces condensation.

A Mere Matter of Programming to model an aerodynamic shape that maximizes condensation and captures the resulting droplets.

--dave

Re:Hmmn, implied refrigeration (1)

BalanceOfJudgement (962905) | more than 7 years ago | (#17817250)

New invention: air-windmill refrigeration.

"Honey, could you climb up the refrigerator and get the milk for me please?"

Sounds fun..

Re:Hmmn, implied refrigeration (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17817364)

Not Prandtl-Glauert condensation. (1)

ClayJar (126217) | more than 7 years ago | (#17817594)

Prandtl-Glauert condensation occurs around the transonic range, while lift-induced condensation can occur any time you have high lift (such at flight at high angles of attack, very tight turns, and wingtip vortices).

Re:Hmmn, implied refrigeration (1)

CompMD (522020) | more than 7 years ago | (#17817468)

Mere matter of programming? I guess you've never done CFD...

Re:Hmmn, implied refrigeration (1)

$RANDOMLUSER (804576) | more than 7 years ago | (#17817758)

CFD?? Accessing... Ah, Computational Fluid Dynamics [wikipedia.org] . Interesting.

The parent was referring to SMOP [catb.org] , a (Simple/Small) Matter Of Programming. "...used ironically to imply that a difficult problem can be easily solved because a program can be written to do it; the irony is that it is very clear that writing such a program will be a great deal of work..."

Lift-Induced Condensation (1)

ClayJar (126217) | more than 7 years ago | (#17817522)

I've taken quite a few photos of lift-induced condensation at the airshows to which I've been. This sounds like a vertical-vane windmill specially designed to capture lift-induced condensation.

I don't think I'll order one... (1)

CasperIV (1013029) | more than 7 years ago | (#17817206)

You should never refer to a new piece of technology as "Max's magical machine" unless it's being sold on TV.

Re:I don't think I'll order one... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17817616)

..or refer to their size as "biggies" and "whoppers", or refer to the installation of such equipment as "plonking"

Wow. (2, Interesting)

foxtrot (14140) | more than 7 years ago | (#17817230)

We can now turn the Australian Outback into Tattooine. We now have vaporators!

Calling Uncle Owen and Luke Skywalker (3, Funny)

Marxist Hacker 42 (638312) | more than 7 years ago | (#17817238)

Your vaporizers are no longer vaporware.

Re:Calling Uncle Owen and Luke Skywalker (1)

Rallion (711805) | more than 7 years ago | (#17817730)

Vaporators. Vaporizers are something else.

Calling Muad'dib (1)

ozbird (127571) | more than 7 years ago | (#17817882)

Frank Herbert has prior art with Dune's windtraps [technovelgy.com] .

Quite old design (1)

Quila (201335) | more than 7 years ago | (#17817252)

they're arranged vertically, within an elegant column, and take the wind from any direction.
I saw something like this on a kiddie science show around 1980.

it's a competition (5, Funny)

macadamia_harold (947445) | more than 7 years ago | (#17817254)

[Max] Whisson's design has many blades, each as aerodynamic as an aircraft wing,

Yeah, but you know Schick is just going to add one more blade and totally steal his marketshare.

Windmills do not work that way! (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17817272)

Goodnight!

Hello Blue Skies! (1)

cob666 (656740) | more than 7 years ago | (#17817274)

Just think, no more cloudy skies downwind of the water harvesting farms.

I wonder how effective these would be in already arid areas, or what the relative humidity of the air needs to be to get a substantial amount of water from these?

Bad idea (2, Interesting)

Weaselmancer (533834) | more than 7 years ago | (#17817278)

One small Whisson windmill on the roof of a suburban house could keep your taps flowing. Biggies on office buildings, whoppers on skyscrapers, could give independence from the city's water supply.

And enough of them and the humidity of the air will drop, reducing all of these miracle machines to a trickle. Probably not good for the local plant and wildlife, too. Rain is important.

It doesn't have to be zero sum (2, Informative)

LunaticTippy (872397) | more than 7 years ago | (#17817404)

If you put the condensors where moist air usually flows out to sea or over a lake it will just suck up moisture from the body of water, resulting in no reduced rainfall over land. Places with high humidity might see no difference in rainfall, since it'd be hard to extract water faster than water gets added naturally.

Re:It doesn't have to be zero sum (1)

indifferent children (842621) | more than 7 years ago | (#17817852)

Here is Florida, we typically get one hour of hard rainfall (3pm-4pm) every day in the summer. Unfortunately, the ground can't soak-up that much water, that quickly, so most of it runs into streams and lakes (and our man-made "drainage retention areas"). Any water that we take out of the air before the 3pm downpour could be used more effectively, even if it is just dumped onto fields slowly.

Re:Bad idea (1)

AnnoyedDroid (1057688) | more than 7 years ago | (#17817750)

Another problem I can speculate on is the issue the water providing companies may take. Just like the oild companies took issue with advances in alternative fuels, their could be a "Water Lobby" that takes issue with this. If people can supply themselves then they will no longer be needed. It is a bit far-fetched, but we've seen it before. Anyone who lives in an area which has de-regulated energy delivery knows that the big energy companies fought long and hard to prevent customers gaining some freedom for their needs.

Again, I used the word speculate. This isn't some set in stone prediction of mine. It just seems to be the way of the world. Whenever one group stands to lose money, they fight back.

I only post what appears logical to me, and then hope someone can correct me.

While we're at it, we should consider investing in (1)

mmell (832646) | more than 7 years ago | (#17817280)

Dew collectors. Wind traps. Stillsuits. Maker hooks. Lasguns and shields. Suspensors.

Incidentally, anybody here but me wondering what effect dessicating ambient air will have on the ecosystem? One guy, one installation, no big - you put 1,000 of these in 1 square mile, I bet you get a dry microclimate. Fill a city with these babies, you could well have an impact on weather patterns for hundreds of miles.

This isn't like, say, hydroelectric energy production - there, the water is only slowed slightly in its natural journey to the lowest point it can find. Here, you're extracting a trace gas (water vapor) from air - not slowing it down (think: classic windmill, hydroelectric dam) but taking it out (think: pumping water out of a lake/river/well for irrigation).

Besides - people already balk at the idea of having a wind farm near their residence (classic NIMBY reaction). Just 'cuz these 'mills make water instead of electricity doesn't make 'em any less of an eyesore.

Useful, but . . . (2, Funny)

Attila (23211) | more than 7 years ago | (#17817294)

What I really need is a droid that understands its language.

Re:Useful, but . . . (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17817576)

How about one who's first job was programming binary load lifters. Very similar in many respects.

Possible Strategy (1)

eldavojohn (898314) | more than 7 years ago | (#17817312)

My aunt & uncle live in Wisconsin and they use geothermal energy to heat their house. A pump sends water out along tubes underground that they've laid beneath 7 layers of different things. It was expensive to set up but during the winter, they don't spend a dime on heat. There's a glorified water heater that extracts the heat from the water and transfers it into a separate set of pipes that run underneath the cement in their basement. I'm probably missing some of the details and I can't remember the company they bought it from but I've been there this year and I've seen it work.

I would imagine that Max's design could use the blades to pump the water and run it through coils that the air passes through. Like a dehumidifier, it would extract the water and drip it into a basin.

And plonk a few hundred in marginal outback land -- specifically to water tree-lots -- and you could start to improve local rainfall.
Well, I know trees consume a lot of water (tens of gallons a day) so these windmills would have to do a lot. But I'm not sure how that would improve local rainfall. It may be a way to augment local rainfall but in no way would it improve it. Trees are known to improve water quality but I think they actually take away from the water table and increase evaporation. I think that final statement is one to attract venture capitalists and government workers than to spread the truth.

Hand out the Moisturizer (1)

VEGETA_GT (255721) | more than 7 years ago | (#17817320)

Because removing water from the air in the dead of winter when its already dry as a bone well make cities that use the tech all over even dryer for the amount of water they would need to pull out for the air for the purpose of use in buildings.

Re:Hand out the Moisturizer (4, Funny)

Dachannien (617929) | more than 7 years ago | (#17817676)

Around here, we have a novel system for collecting moisture from the air in the dead of winter.

We have a widespread system of asphalt-covered concrete which collect the copious moisture, extracted from the nearby lake due to atmospheric pressure differentials, in the form of a thick residue. We then dissolve large amounts of highly soluble compounds into this residue to prevent it from freezing solid, and then the mixture is processed by repeatedly compressing it under several hundred pounds of weight.

We use the resulting product to support both the automobile and landscaping industries, by using it to rust out car underbodies and kill treelawn grass.

sum zero gain (3, Interesting)

jsepeta (412566) | more than 7 years ago | (#17817366)

the article states that with these windmills, water will be replenished into the air from the oceans. how do we know this? how was this proven?

and if the water content of oceans diminishes, the salt content increases proportionately. that would threaten to bring dramatic change to the fragile balance of the environment for marine life.

when man plays with mother nature, we almost inevitably come out on the losing end.
* drain the swamps in new orleans, then lose 60% of the land's ability to absorb water.
* introduce pest-killing amphibians to the everglades, then they procreate without preditors and wipe out existing species.
* water the deserts of nevada to make lush golf courses, then people in colorado go thirsty and firemen can't put out historically large forest fires covering hundreds of thousands of acres.

Re:sum zero gain (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17817596)

All true, but for the last. We shouldn't have golf courses in the desert, but we should let fires burn on a more regular basis. Also, I don't think people should be living in Colorado unless they trap furs for trading for whiskey.

Re:sum zero gain (1)

Jbcarpen (883850) | more than 7 years ago | (#17817604)

and if the water content of oceans diminishes, the salt content increases proportionately. that would threaten to bring dramatic change to the fragile balance of the environment for marine life.
The net water content of the oceans will NOT decrease if this technology is put into use. The only thing that might change is the rate at which water both leaves and reenters the oceans. Furthermore, even if you were correct, as the icecaps shrink, there is a huge influx of less salty water so an increase in salt content would undo some of that. (any debate about global warming does not belong in this thread so I won't go any further into that.)

Re:sum zero gain (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17817644)

How do we know this? Because anyone with an elementary background in physics knows that drier air absorbs moisture more readily. So when these mills dry out the air, the dried air is intrinsically better suited to absorbing moisture. Given that the ocean covers a proportionately larger area of the globe, a reasonable assumption is that most of the moisture absorbed into the air would come from the ocean.

As for the FUD about salt content increasing, there are two *huge* flaws in that line of reasoning:
1. The ocean is huge. Astronomically huge. And the water is coming from everywhere. If the ocean were to evaporate for the next 5 years without a single drop of water reaching it, via rain, river or whatever, the difference in the salt content would be negligible.
2. What do you think happens to the collected water? Do we shoot it into space? Condensing water doesn't mean it never reenters the ecosystem. By your logic we ought to stop collecting water in lakes when it rains. The water collected on these devices reenters the system the same way water that falls as rain reenters the ecosystem, either by evaporation or by drainage (rivers or sewers).

I swear, Chicken Little's got nothing on /.

        -ShadowRanger

Re:sum zero gain (3, Informative)

Waffle Iron (339739) | more than 7 years ago | (#17817686)

and if the water content of oceans diminishes, the salt content increases proportionately

Umm, any water collected by these things would end up either: (a) re-evaporating locally or (b) running into a river. In the first case, there's no net change in water distribution. In the second case, the fresh water ultimately ends up in an ocean, restoring the salinity levels.

At any rate, we've been mining huge amounts of water out of ancient aquifers for decades without worrying about ocean salinity. But that is still an insignificant drop in the bucket compared to the real impact on salinity: the massive influx of fresh water that is currently coming from from melting polar ice.

Re:sum zero gain (1)

PopeOptimusPrime (875888) | more than 7 years ago | (#17817998)

Intro chem: the vapour pressure of a gas is proportional only to temperature. Therefore, if we remove water vapor from the air, the vapour pressure decreases, and liquid water (from the oceans or otherwise) evaporates to achieve equilibrium.

Where's the need come from? (4, Funny)

Lazerf4rt (969888) | more than 7 years ago | (#17817384)

Does this country face a more urgent issue? Will the world have a greater problem? While we watch our dams dry, our rivers die, our lakes and groundwater disappear...

Forgive me for being unaware of this impending catatrophe, but is there really an urgent issue? Is this mainly happening in Australia? I thought floods were going to be the next big problem, due to global warming.

What should I be bracing myself for? Floods or droughts? I need to know what I should panic about. Thanks.

Re:Where's the need come from? (2, Insightful)

Marxist Hacker 42 (638312) | more than 7 years ago | (#17817718)

If you live on the edge of a desert (as some Australians do) you need to worry about drought. If you live near the seashore (as the rest of the Australians do) you need to worry about flooding. That's the funny thing about global warming- it affects different climate regions differently. The only constant is it will change *all* climate areas in some way.

Re:Where's the need come from? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17817842)

Both. The models predict more frequent droughts, punctuated at times by more severe flooding storms.

Re:Where's the need come from? (1)

nathanh (1214) | more than 7 years ago | (#17817988)

Forgive me for being unaware of this impending catatrophe, but is there really an urgent issue? Is this mainly happening in Australia?

In Australia? Yes, we are in yet another round of nationwide droughts. This is pretty typical for Australia. We're one of the driest countries on the planet.

What should I be bracing myself for? Floods or droughts? I need to know what I should panic about. Thanks.

In Australia? Both. Droughts last about 5 years, then a catastrophic flood kills off whatever managed to survive the drought.

And if the droughts and floods don't get you, we've get 9 of the world's 10 most poisonous snakes, and 10 of the world's 10 most poisonous sea creatures.

Also we've got drop bears. If you seek shade beneath a tree, for god's sake, wear a hat.

Re:Where's the need come from? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17817996)

What should I be bracing myself for? Floods or droughts? I need to know what I should panic about. Thanks.

Everything.

Stop smoking crack naysayers (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17817398)

Compare the volume of air that any good-sized unit can draw moisture from (and assuming 100% efficiency which is BS) to the total volume of air passing across the area. That's like saying too many windmills will stop the wind blowing. Stop smoking crack.

Re:Stop smoking crack naysayers (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17817544)

I can't smoke any crack, you've gone and merrily bought all the crack and smoked it yourself without first wondering whether someone should actually test and study its effects first.

What a GREAT idea! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17817418)

You could extract it from the Northwest in winter time, lord knows they have enough rain already!

And, the story states that it cools the air, if we put up enough of these, we can solve global warming!

Climate Change? (1)

Biff98 (633281) | more than 7 years ago | (#17817464)

I wonder, if you coated the planet in these things, what it would do to the global climate. Hmmm.

vaporware (2, Funny)

CDS (143158) | more than 7 years ago | (#17817474)

Sounds like vaporware to me... just a lot of hot air...

Re:vaporware (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17817906)

har har haaaaar har haaar

I can't believe the headline isn't (1)

wiredog (43288) | more than 7 years ago | (#17817524)

"Man invents windstill [wikipedia.org] "

If everyone who can afford one.. (1)

zyl0x (987342) | more than 7 years ago | (#17817572)

..puts one up, won't the majority of them end up in North America aka only one side of the planet? You think global warming is bad now, wait until we start propelling ourselves towards the sun.

vertical axis windmils and water (1)

deanpole (185240) | more than 7 years ago | (#17817584)

Vertical axis windmills are not new. They have a nasty habit of shaking themselves to death.

As for getting water out of air, using desiccants [off-grid.net] sounds more promising.

Ridiculous (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17817628)

Do you have any idea what the average dewpoint is in the fucking desert?
Keep an eye on this. A forty-degree F difference between ambient and dewpoint is not uncommon, and I've seen it as high as 60F.

http://www.srh.noaa.gov/data/obhistory/KLAS.html [noaa.gov]

Venturi Effect (2, Interesting)

reyalpdemannu (1054910) | more than 7 years ago | (#17817684)

For some reason, the technology described just reminds me of a venturi nozzle. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Venturi [wikipedia.org]

The important factor (1)

azav (469988) | more than 7 years ago | (#17817708)

When you pull water out of the air, you change the downstream environment substantially. Hot dry winds suck the moisture out of what they pass over, the ground, plants, etc, and things burn.

Knowing how this will affect down flow areas is critical, lest they create more problems than they fix.

Just a FYI.

you FAIL iT (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17817734)

a BSD 3Ox that [goat.cx]

Fortune's fortune? (1)

dazedNconfuzed (154242) | more than 7 years ago | (#17817748)

Rather ironic that the supposedly unrelated "fortune" displayed with this story (lower right corner of page) is "Fremen add life to spice!"

(OBexplaination: "Fremen" & "spice" being a reference to the book "Dune" (which you HAVE read, right? no?) which makes a big deal of harvesting moisture.)

Call me stupid... (1)

42Penguins (861511) | more than 7 years ago | (#17817756)

Call me stupid, but...

If global warming causes icecaps to melt and enter the global water system,
and this machine removes water from the system,
then I think I may have just solved global warming. (patent pending)

Re:Call me stupid... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17817974)

Not really, in the big picture, we will always have the same amount of water on earth...if you drink a glass of water, you didn't remove it from existence, you simply piss it out a while later, it then goes back into the ecosystem and eventually (approx. 2000 years later*) someone else is drinking those same water molecules.

*Sometimes even sooner, Germans seem to like that sort of thing.*

*I know, I am German.

Dune (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17817778)

I was about to make a Dune comment, when I saw that someone already beat me to it with the tag...

I don't recall if the book mentioned them, but I remember seeing them in either the Sci-Fi Channel or the movie from the 80s. Frank Herbert had a bunch of interesting concepts in the book, including the Stillsuit idea and the water collection beads. Potable water will or is causing military conflicts. In a few years it will be even worse.

"Weather" the drought (2, Funny)

bubbl07 (777082) | more than 7 years ago | (#17817780)

With three or four of Max's magical machines on hills at our farm we could fill the tanks and troughs, and weather the drought.

No pun intended?

Make sure it speaks Bacchi! (1)

jzarling (600712) | more than 7 years ago | (#17817964)

I saw a movie that had moisturefarmers in it once.
It looked like a hard scrabble existence.
This farmer seemed to be pretty haggard, he needed droids, he needed more human hands helping to control the droids, and his nephew was no help, all he wanted to do was waste time with his friends.
And to top it all off he bought some droids off the back of a truck, which of course belonged to someone else, and this brought the goverment into the picture....

Fresh Water (1)

Toonol (1057698) | more than 7 years ago | (#17817968)

If you set up an array of these offshore, would this be an effective means of generating drinkable water? I could see a whole bunch of these a mile off the California coastline, if that was true.
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