Solar panels that generate water

Solar panels that generate water

Zero Mass Water’s hydro-panels called ‘SOURCE’ are able to pull potable, clear water directly from the air. The mechanism is innovative to say the least.

Text: Sukanya Shantha Photo: Zero Mass Water

Imagine if the arid regions of the Middle East, with scanty rainfall, are suddenly able to access clean water through the year. Or if Syrian refugees in Lebanon are able to access potable water without any hindrances. Unimaginable, right? The Arizona-based start-up Zero Mass Water system is making this happen.

Their path breaking, sustainable water innovation, hydro-panels, is creating water from practically nothing.

With the technology that turns sunlight and air into the highest-quality water, the Zero Mass Water system has been changing the human relationship with drinking water.

Zero Mass Water’s Chief Executive Cody Friesen began this work six years ago with a radical mission of making safe and healthy drinking water “an unlimited resource”. Friesen feels, “water stress is a human condition” and his innovation aspires to guarantee access to safe drinking water for every person in the world.

The company's media spokesperson told Twentyfour7. online that Zero Mass Water believes "people need a sustainable water solution independent of municipal and bottled water".

“Across the globe and across the entire socioeconomic spectrum, people need a better choice for drinking water." With pressing issues like access to water, sanitation, scarcity, plastic pollution, aging infrastructure and increasingly dwindling resources, the need is even more pronounced.”  

The technology

The hydro-panels are built on the principle of “hygroscopy” or the science of water vapour. The thermodynamics provided by the solar panels power the capture and purification process. The solar panels help capture water vapour out of the air, filters it using a calcium and magnesium cartridge and stores it for consumption.

Explaining the mechanics behind the innovation, the company’s media spokesperson says, SOURCE works by adsorbing water from the ambient air onto a special material inside the hydro-panel. The water is collected as pure H2O and is desorbed into an airtight system.”

The hydro-panels connected to a global mesh network, are monitored real-time for production and quality, ensuring technical glitches can be tracked almost immediately.

A single unit has a physical footprint of 2.8 square metres, generates its own electricity from a solar photovoltaic panel (and stores some of that electricity in an integrated lithium-ion battery for keeping water pressure up after dark), and uses that electricity to drive a cycle of condensation and evaporation.

A standard two-panel arrangement is able to generate up to four to 10 litres of water every day. This, even in places with very little atmospheric humidity.

The innovation might, at present, not be designed to provide enough water for an entire family's total daily usage (the average American uses about 100 gallons per day). But it does ensure that a moderate supply drinking water is always clean and available - something that's currently not the case for 10% of the world's population.

Even though this hydro-panel generates electricity to create water, it is designed to operate off grid. This makes it promising, especially in an emergency situation.

Zero Mass Water’s approach to harvesting water seems like a technically sound method. Its total structural independence could be touted as be one of its most innovative features.


Environment-friendly innovation

Although, the mechanics include sucking humidity off the atmosphere, the company assures it does not have any negative impact. “The amount of water vapour in the air surpasses and is refreshed daily at a rate that exceeds the amount of water extracted if we were to cover the entire planet in hydro-panels making it the only renewable supply of drinking water,” says the company.

In a matter of six years, Zero Mass Water’s panels have, so far, been installed in a wide range of places including hurricane-stricken Puerto Rico, and even high-end homes in California. The hydro-panel is now available across the US, Latin America, the Middle East, and in the Asia Pacific region.

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