With overpopulation, climate change and increasing water scarcity, innovators across the world have been looking for a solution to meet the essential demand for water. Companies like SOURCE Global extracts water from the air. Its devices are powered by built-in solar panels.
According to the World Resources Institute, nearly one-quarter of the world’s population faces water scarcity issues. This is prevalent in Chennai India and Cape Town South Africa where it’s quite common to see families waiting in long queues for clean water. Watery scarcity arises when there is not enough rainfall, increasing human population and industrialization, as well as pollution of local water bodies.
Atmospheric water generators (AWGs), like the one used by SOURCE Global, are machines that produce portable water from surrounding air. It produces water by pulling moisture out of the surrounding air. It works best in warmer climates where the air contains a level of humidity. AWG allows people, who are facing water shortages, either natural or man caused, to lessen or altogether solve their water supply issues. Governments and companies are very much keen about this technology as it is particularly exciting because of low build cost and parts availability.
However, it can consume a lot of electricity and many of these technologies only work in places with high air humidity. These constraints are what prompted SOURCE to develop a more flexible and sustainable solution. CNN stated that the company’s solar panels power a fan that draws in air. Inside the device, the air travels through a sponge-like material that traps the water vapor. As it is collected, magnesium and calcium are added to the water to improve its taste and provide possible health benefits; as such mineralized drinking water can be produced from the air with renewable energy and zero waste.
In Dubai, where SOURCE has its largest water farm, the company produces 1.5 million liters of water every year. It plans to create a plastic-free bottled water brand and sell it to hotels and resorts.
Vahid Fotuhi, SOURCE’s vice president for Europe, Middle East and Africa, said the company has installed around the world at hospitals, schools, and work sites that have difficulties accessing water. “In the Middle East, we have seen a lot of interest in the hospitality sector as big brands look for a more sustainable solution for water to accommodate millennials, who are looking for demonstrated sustainability.”
He said SOURCE’s flagship hospitality offering is in a luxury desert camp in Dubai, where its hydropanels produce drinking water on site. This shows the scalability of these water generators, which could operate as one panel in a family home to or a number installed at large hotel resorts.
Keith Hays, vice president of Bluefield Research, said SOURCE’s design is different from other AWGs because it combines solar-based power supply and water capture mechanism within the same structure, enabling off-grid operation. He explained that other systems usually have a separate panel or connect to the grid.