Friday, 06 February 2015 00:00

Clean and abundant drinking water is something that most of us take for granted, but in many parts of the world, potable water is a lot harder to come by. Millions around the world still live with either insufficient or unsanitary sources of drinking water. Thankfully, there are many people doing work to develop and improve water sources across the globe. For example, there are some truly ingenious engineers and architects out there coming up with innovative ways to extract water from the air. Here are a few of my favorite innovations:

A water-collecting billboard in Lima, Peru was built by the University of Engineering and Technology of Peru, in the hopes of drawing the interest of more engineering students for the university. The billboard runs off the power grid, and houses five condensers similar to those in an air conditioner. Water vapor cools and liquefies on the surface of the condensers, then runs down through a filtration system to be stored and dispensed from a faucet at the base of the tower. The billboard reportedly produces 96 liters (or 25 gallons) of water per day.

Along similar lines, Eole Water, a company based in France, specializes in the production of a water-collecting wind turbine. The turbine generates electricity to run a condenser that collects water from air drawn in at the top of the unit. The water flows down through a filtration system and into reservoirs for use by the community. Eole says their system can collect up to a whopping “1200 liters of water per day.” That’s about 317 gallons! Eole also offers a range of solar-powered water condensation systems.

A less technological approach to water collection is being developed by Warka Water, and is currently being implemented in Ethiopian communities. This one uses no generators, condensers or electricity, focusing instead on simple materials and construction that don’t require heavy machinery or power tools. A bamboo frame supports a plastic mesh, on which water droplets from the air collect and trickle down through a filter to be collected at the bottom. On average, the tower can collect between 13 and 26 gallons per day. That’s pretty remarkable for an unpowered structure. The design of the tower implements elements of various plants and animals that have adapted to survive in low-moisture regions, and the name comes from the Warka tree, a fruit-bearing native tree that serves as a community gathering place in Ethiopian culture.