Air from water?
March 19, 2004 1:30 AM   Subscribe

This company has released a device which claims to provide water "anytime, anywhere" (No Goodies jokes,please) - from the humidity in the air. With two other companies selling these machines in Australia and prices ranging from AUD1,000 to AUD2,300, is this a viable solution to the massive water shortages around the world, or just something else to talk about around the water cooler?
posted by dg (18 comments total)
From here.
posted by dg at 1:32 AM on March 19, 2004

What about the environmental impact this will have on the sandworms?
posted by insomnia_lj at 4:27 AM on March 19, 2004

Probably it's just a device that calculates dew point, humidity of air and attempts to cool some air enough for condensation to occour, therefore it requires some form of energy (electricity probably)

When combined with a solar panel it's an interesting, but hardly a breaktrough.
posted by elpapacito at 4:37 AM on March 19, 2004

Just the thing for those moisture farmers on Tatooine.
posted by alumshubby at 4:50 AM on March 19, 2004

This is nothing new, and it's nothing you have to pay AU$1000+ for. It's called a "dehumidifier." Here's one for just over US$100.

OK, in fairness the condensing coils of most dehumidifiers are probably not something you'd want to drink water off of, but the principle is the same.
posted by DevilsAdvocate at 4:56 AM on March 19, 2004

That's exactly what I thought, devil.
posted by PigAlien at 6:00 AM on March 19, 2004

Wide scale adoption would surely alter weather patterns.
posted by BentPenguin at 6:16 AM on March 19, 2004

I doubt it Penguin, you must remember there's a heck of a lot of air out there.
posted by fvw at 6:29 AM on March 19, 2004

I will hold out for a stillsuit thank you.
posted by aschulak at 6:33 AM on March 19, 2004

Yeah, a stillsuit. Nothing cools me off at the end of a long day like drinking my own recycled sweat and urine.

"It's in the water, that's why it's yellow!"
posted by tommasz at 7:03 AM on March 19, 2004

AirWater is actually a subsidiary of Universal Communication Systems, which used to be called World Wide Wireless Communications. This appears to be a prototypical 'bubble company' who went from the wireless business, to solar panels, and now water from air-- along the way taking an adjusted stock price from 8,000 to seven cents.

Almost all of Google results on either AirWater or UCS comes up with press releases. I'm a little wary of this.
posted by F Mackenzie at 7:27 AM on March 19, 2004

Not exactly a new idea: Air Wells and Dew Ponds.
posted by SPrintF at 7:45 AM on March 19, 2004

Short answer: No, it isn't.
posted by tranquileye at 7:47 AM on March 19, 2004

mackenzie: indeed it seems to be another bubble company that is using otherwise perfectly functional technology (dehumidifier) with a twist (water filter, osmosis I guess).

In such instances it is fundamental to understand that technology must never be confused with companies, expecially the ones exploiting marketing techniques and questionable lawyers to collect investments and later disappear with the money.

For instace, the whole new economy bubble was blamed by some on internet or on people not getting easily and quickly enough used to internet ; yet the technology behind internet and internet itself are here to stay and they're not less valid because of scammers.
posted by elpapacito at 7:47 AM on March 19, 2004

Our ability to extracting the moisture from the air we breath, harness it, filter it, purify and deliver drinkable Water to needy end users, anywhere in the world, must rank as one of the new world wonders of the 21st century.

I've never been able to figure out why people will spend time and money on everything that shows except copywriting and proofreading.
posted by George_Spiggott at 8:17 AM on March 19, 2004

"Woman in the Dunes" has a nice description of how to build your own water trap that runs without any need for electricity. I'm not sure how actually effective it is, though. Certainly you won't get enough to take a bath, but the character in the book had quite enough to drink.
posted by kaibutsu at 9:54 AM on March 19, 2004

Time for the mathematics. Optimally, for a system like this to work, air would have to have the maximum amount of water to take from it, correct?

100% humidity at 30 degrees Celsius (86F) is 30 grams of water per cubic meter. At 20C (68F), it's 17grams/meter, and at 10C (50F), it's 9grams/meter. This means, that even at optimum (assume 30C) temperature, the most any system could get with a flow-through of 1 meter of air is 30 grams of water.

If the temperature drops, the amount of water you can possibly get drops. If the humidity drops, the amount of water you can possibly get drops.

Say it's 10C (50F) out, with 30 percent humidity. The MOST water you could get is 3 grams/meter of air.

Assuming 100% efficiency. Which doesn't exist.

The Efficiency Factor (EF) is a guide to a dehumidifier's operating cost. The EF is the amount of water, in litres, a dehumidifier removes at 27°C (80.6°F) and 60 per cent relative humidity for each kilowatt hour (kWh) of electricity. If electricity costs 8 cents a kilowatt hour, a unit with an EF of 1.2 will remove 15 L (32 U.S. pints) for each dollar in electricity costs. An advanced unit with an EF of 2.4 will remove 30 L (63 U.S. pints, 6 1/2 imperial gal.) of water for each electrical dollar spent.

Typical solar panels produce energy at from between 20 and 50 cents per kilowatt hour. This water will not come cheap. At optimum conditions $.50 to $1+/gal, the price jumping at lower temperatures and humidities.

With lower temperatures, it would probably not be worth it to run your system at night using batteries.
posted by kablam at 10:38 AM on March 19, 2004

posted by quonsar at 6:52 PM on March 19, 2004

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