The first time Reuben Vollmer tried to make water from thin air, it didn’t go as planned.
“I 3D printed … two [spirals], and I took tinfoil and I made it go between those two pieces,” Vollmer told The Cool Down. “Then I had a packing tube that was maybe about six inches in diameter that I put that long tube of tinfoil inside of, and then I had this little fan on top and a solar panel, and basically the air would blow through this tube and condense water and drip into a coffee pot. … It didn’t work well at all.”
Vollmer made this initial attempt in 2014 when a drought in California threatened his parents’ olive tree farm. Since that first unsuccessful prototype, he and his business partner, Tyler Breton, have come a long way.
Now, their Spout atmospheric water generator is the most successful and affordable model on the market, having hit $1 million in preorder sales this November after only six months.
Today’s Spout is a countertop unit, half the size of a microwave, that collects water from the surrounding air. It filters the air, condenses the moisture from it, filters that water again, and deposits it in a glass pitcher with a UV light in the lid to keep microbes from growing. Each Spout generates 2.5 gallons per day of some of the purest drinking water available, and all it takes is a few hundred watts of electricity, according to the Spout FAQ.
“As soon as I realized that I could use electricity to make drinking water from the air, I’ve been obsessed with that, because … electricity travels a lot easier than water,” said Vollmer, who compared pipes to electrical wires and bottles to batteries. “If we could have the same accessibility that solar panels allow us, but have that for water, then we can unlock a whole new civilization.”
In the beginning, Vollmer worried about taking too much water out of the air, but some research uncovered a surprise benefit to water generators. “Water vapor is the most abundant greenhouse gas by volume and a great contributor to global warming, and our machine basically eats that and turns it into water,” he revealed.
With the ability to generate water where it’s needed, Vollmer envisions homes and even farms becoming “water-neutral” and generating as much water as they use. Spout could even bring clean drinking water to the most drought-stricken parts of the world, a goal that is very dear to the inventor.
“I’ve got heart-to-heart connections with people now around the world who I’ve sworn, at all costs to my life, that I will make a product that they can use to have fresh drinking water, because they are just dying, literally, from drinking toxic water,” Vollmer said.
The Spout is also of interest to people closer to home. For Breton, the most remarkable thing about this technology is the quality of the water it produces.
“It’s just substantially higher than literally anything else you can buy,” Breton told The Cool Down. “I had friends that were spending a couple hundred dollars a month, or literally like $5,000-$10,000 for really expensive water filters for their homes, and they were ultimately getting just a substandard quality of water to what we could make.”
In fact, Vollmer and Breton are so confident in the Spout’s quality that they put it up against one of the most popular water filters on the market, the Brita filter, collecting water samples with both in Venice, California.
The results they provided to The Cool Down showed the Spout as the clear winner. On the Simple Lab Healthy Water scale, the Brita scored 41 out of 99, compared to the Spout’s 98. The Brita sample contained unhealthy levels of arsenic, uranium, and lithium, along with other contaminants, none of which were found in water from the Spout.
The purity of water from a Spout water generator is one reason that Vollmer and Breton use theirs every day.
It may sound like science fiction, but the technology is real — and it’s scheduled to ship next year. “Right now we’re working on our next big journey, which is just getting the product made and in the hands of people next year,” said Breton.
“We’re on a mission to make the greatest water on Earth,” Vollmer concluded. “That’s what we’re here to do.”
You can reserve your Spout today on the company’s website. Use The Cool Down’s exclusive discount code “cool” for $50 off your preorder.
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