Researchers at the Israel Institute of Technology The Technion in Haifa have come up with a new system that coverts atmospheric vapor into clean drinking water, while notably decreasing the typical energy needed for the process.
The vapor in the air is separated using electrical compression-expansion refrigeration system and is then condensed to liquid water. As only the vapor is absorbed by the system, the energy used in the process is less than when the whole air unit is cooled.
“The system was studied using a model that simulates its three interconnected cycles (air, desiccant, and water) over a range of ambient conditions, and optimal configurations are reported for different operation conditions,” a report published by the American Chemical Society’s Journal Environmental Science & Technology reads. “Model results were compared to specifications of commercial atmospheric moisture harvesting systems and found to represent savings of 5–65% of the electrical energy requirements due to the vapor separation process.”
In their research, the scientists “…show that the liquid desiccant separation stage that is integrated into atmospheric moisture harvesting systems can work under a wide range of environmental conditions using low grade or solar heating as a supplementary energy source, and that the performance of the combined system is superior.”
The fact that pure vapor will be in contact with the condenser’s coil also means that the water produced will be free of airborne bacteria.
Dutch scientist Ap Verheggen, alongside his team at SunGlacier, came up with a similar concept with the WaterCube device. A 50-centimeter (20-inch) steel cube, the small device appears to create water using an ingenious combination of solar power generation and cooling technology in its condensation process.