A new water purifier has won the Water Abundance XPrize for 1.5 million dollars. The device, invented by the Skysource/Skywater alliance successfully combines a traditional air to water purifier with an environmental friendly biomass gasifier. To win this prize it had to be capable of extracting at least 2,000 liters of water a day from the atmosphere, be powered by clean energy, and cost a maximum 2¢ a liter. That is enough to supply the needs for around 100 people, which could be sufficient for an entire village.
“We do a lot of first principles thinking at XPrize when we start designing these challenges,” says Zenia Tata, who helped launch the prize and serves as chief impact officer of XPrize
“At any given time, it holds 12 quadrillion gallons–the number 12 with 19 zeros after it–a very, very, big number,” she says. All 7 billion people on earth only consume around 350 – 400 billion gallons. Of course water from the atmosphere is necessary for a lot of other things such as perspiration, so we can’t just use all of it, regardless that is still a very impressive number.
WEDEW (“wood-to-energy deployed water”)
The new purifier combines two extant forms of water purification. The first of which called Skywater, a large box that works to replicate cloud formation by importing warm air that can then strike the cold air inside forming condensation. This type of condensation then drips downward creating a reserve of purified fresh water for drinking purposes. Water is stored inside of a tank within the shipping container connected to a bottle refill station or tap for easy accessibility.
Unfortunately the device does use significant amounts of energy so that is why designers made the decision to combine it with what is called a biomass gasifier. This innovative form of technology is capable of recycling organic material to generate heat. Sawdust, grass cuts or other forms of biological mass can be vaporized and turned in to gas to create the type of hot and humid conditions you need for condensation to take place. Furthermore this steam powered process creates what is called bio-chart. Another word for ashes that originate from incinerated biological mass. Bio-char acts in a similar to fertilization, accelerating growth of plants and furthering the devices pro-ecological function.
“It’s a carbon-negative technology,” says David Hertz, a California-based architect who helped lead the project. “I think the future of technologies is going to be moving towards this restorative, regenerative model that actually helps to repair the damage we’ve done.”
The Skysource/Skywater Alliance intends to use the prize money for rapid development and deployment of the technology abroad in co-operation with nonprofits organizations.
“One could imagine these shipping containers being positioned in a state of readiness throughout the world to be able to respond to disasters for both energy and water,” he says.
The company mention that this device can also run on solar and battery power if biomass is not readily available.