Clean, renewable drinking water made straight out of thin air almost sounds too wild to be true.
But “hydropanels,” created by the Arizona-based company SOURCE, can do just that. The high-tech panels use the sun to extract moisture from the air, providing safe drinking water for many of the places around the world that need it most.
The technology is fairly straightforward. Fans on each panel draw in ambient air and push it through a water-absorbing material, trapping the vapor from the air. The vapor is then condensed into a liquid using energy from the sun, after which it’s collected in a reservoir. The water is then mineralized with magnesium and calcium to maintain quality and achieve a better taste.
While condensing air into water is not a new idea, the energy used to do it — all coming from the sun — makes these panels more sustainable than other, traditional methods.
Each panel, coming in at $2,000 each, produces about 1.3 gallons of water a day and can operate completely independently of other existing infrastructure, meaning the hydropanels can provide safe drinking water virtually anywhere.
“The challenges with water around the world are dramatic,” Cody Friesen, CEO of SOURCE, told CNN. “We aim to make safe water an unlimited resource around the world.”
And that’s a big deal. More than two billion people on Earth are living in water-stressed countries. This problem is only expected to get worse as a result of warming temperatures and population growth. UNICEF estimates that by 2025, 50% of the world’s population could lack access to drinkable water.
In water-stressed areas, bottled water is often a solution for safe drinking water. But with over 80% of plastic water bottles ending up in landfills, this can exacerbate our planet’s plastic waste problem. A single SOURCE hydropanel, however, eliminates the need for 54,000 single-use plastic bottles over its 15-year lifespan.
And it’s already working across the world. SOURCE claims its hydropanels are being used in 50 countries, providing water to some of the areas that need it most.