There is nothing more essential to life on Earth than water. It’s a cruel irony that the majority of the world’s surface is covered in water, yet only a fraction of it is suitable for human consumption. Around 785 million people globally still lack access to clean, safe drinking water.
With an aim to provide drinking water where no other sources of water are available, a Spanish company, Aquaer, has devised a machine capable of extracting drinking water from thin air. Invented by Enrique Veiga, the 82-year-old engineer, the machine can operate even in areas where humidity is low, as in the desert.
The machines utilize the same principle that causes condensation in air-conditioning units. It uses electricity to cool the surrounding air, and then it takes the process a step further by condensing the water vapor.
There are other similar devices in the world that are capable of condensation water but in optimal conditions of 60% or 80% relative humidity. On the other hand, the Spanish machine is capable of generating water in extreme conditions such as temperatures up to 40-degree Celcius and can handle relative humidity of 10-15%. This small device can provide 50-70 liters of water per day, while a larger installation can produce up to 5000 liters per day, reports Reuters.
Veiga originally invented the drinking water extracting device back in the 1990s to combat droughts in southern Spain. But at that time, the device could not withstand temperatures of up to 40 degrees and only run at a humidity of less than 8%. To put it into perspective: In Germany, there is an average humidity of 70% in summer; in winter, 85% is typical for the local weather.
The company is working with an NGO called Water Inception to expand the reach of its water solutions to villages and towns with poor water access. The devices are already providing clean, safe drinking water to communities in the Namibia desert in Africa. Aquaer has also installed a machine with a 500-liter capacity per day in a refugee camp near Tripoli in Lebanon through the NGO.
The NGO is now raising funds to install solar panels on the machine to bring down electricity costs and reduce the environmental impact of the project, paving the way for universal access to water extraction methods.