There is no doubting that access to clean water is a major issue in many parts of the world. In some places hours can be spent walking to the local clean water sources and painstakingly hauling it back by hand. It has been reported that dirty water kills 9,000 people, 5,000 of which are children, each day.
But what if there was a simple way to change that?
In comes WaterSeer, a new design from VICI-Labs that claims to be able to harvest up to 11 gallons(37 liters) of pure water per day from the air without using electricity.
Here’s how it works:The unit is placed into a hole that is six feet deep, which cools the metal by being underground. The wind will spin the turbine, which spins fans that draw the air down below ground. When the air is cooled, water will condense along the walls and drip down into a reservoir. People can pump the water out by a tube. There is an air filter at the top, and they say it will still work even without wind. The WaterSeer’s condensation chamber is placed into a sleeve so it can be removed for cleaning.
They tested the device at UC Berkeley Gill Tract Farm back in April of 2016, and are planning on testing it with the Peace Corps once their crowdfunding is complete. They ran some calculations off the results from that testing and came up with the 11 gallons number, but the local environment will dictate the actual amount harvested.
Check out this one minute video to see how it operates:
If you like what you see you can visit their IndieGoGo page, which has raised over $119,000 so far. You can even buy your own for just $134 and get it after the first production run is completed, which is slated to be sometime next year!
I must tell you though, this isn’t the first time something like this has been tried. Edward Linacre created his Airdrop water harvester which uses a small solar power panel to turn a fan to pull the air down below ground. He won the James Dyson Award for it in 2011.
If the WaterSeer is using the wind to spin a turbine, which then spins a fan – why not use the wind directly? This is what ORE-Design created, and it has zero moving parts! A tall pole with vents and a filter is open on all sides for the wind to flow through. Copper fins catch any moisture in that air which then drips down into the reservoir.
You could even combine the above mentioned technology with something like INVELOX by Sheerwind. That is a funnel that focuses the wind down and drives turbines for power generation, surely you could also harvest the moisture in that air AND generate electricity. But I understand if you don’t want to get too complex, as things break and require more knowledge to fix.
All these things remind me of ‘Wind Traps’ as described in Frank Herbert’s DUNE series. He wrote about how residents of that desert world used large tubes to funnel wind deep underground to collect water.
I think they have overestimated the amount of water that one of these could produce in a day. I still think that it'd be a cool thing to have as a backup water source, so I wish them all the best in this endeavor. But maybe what I really need is a droid that understands the binary language of moisture vaporators.