Good Thinking

Wind turbine to harvest energy and water from desert air

Eolewater's WMS1000 wind-driven water-harvesting system uses on-board cooling units to chill the air until its moisture condenses
Eolewater's WMS1000 wind-driven water-harvesting system uses on-board cooling units to chill the air until its moisture condenses
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Artist's rendering of the Eolewater WMS1000
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Artist's rendering of the Eolewater WMS1000
Schematic of Eolewater's WMS1000 system
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Schematic of Eolewater's WMS1000 system
Eolewater envisions harvesting atmospheric moisture on a commercial scale using wind turbines
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Eolewater envisions harvesting atmospheric moisture on a commercial scale using wind turbines
Inventor and Eolewater founder Marc Parent
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Inventor and Eolewater founder Marc Parent
Eolewater's WMS1000 wind-driven water-harvesting system uses on-board cooling units to chill the air until its moisture condenses
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Eolewater's WMS1000 wind-driven water-harvesting system uses on-board cooling units to chill the air until its moisture condenses

We've all seen ice cold glasses and bottles dripping with condensation after cooling water vapor in the air, and though grabbing water out of thin air is not new, it took French inventor and Eolewater founder Marc Parent's umpteenth emptying of his air conditioner's condensate to envision harvesting atmospheric moisture on a commercial scale using wind turbines. After years of designs and prototypes, his proof-of-concept device, essentially a wind-powered refrigeration/condensation/filtration unit, was put in operation in the dry desert air of Abu Dhabi last October where it's been reliably extracting 130-200 gal (approx. 500-800L) of clean, fresh water a day ever since.

"Access to drinking water is a condition for life and cannot be considered a luxury reserved to developed countries," Parent said. "Humanity cannot ignore the pain of those deprived of water access and has to find new solutions." The turbine units are not designed solely for desert-use. Being self-contained makes them suitable for any isolated areas that lack the infrastructure for water and/or electricity distribution, including islands, disaster areas, etc.

Housed in a 19.7 ft x 6.5 ft (6 m x 2 m) nacelle, Eolewater's fifth generation WMS1000 water condenser system sits atop a 78 ft (24m) mast and is powered by a 30 kW wind turbine (minimum 15 mph (24 kph) wind speed required) with a 42 ft (13 m) diameter rotor. Since our atmosphere contains a reasonable amount of water (even the Sahara desert has an average relative humidity of around 25%), it's simply a matter of using the wind to generate electricity for the on-board cooling units to chill the air until its moisture condenses out.

Once the water is collected, it is filtered and sent to stainless steel tanks for storage - simple as that. Apparently, the units are so durably built that, with routine maintenance, it's estimated they'll last up to 30 years. In areas where sun abounds but the winds are unreliable, Eole has also designed the WMS-30kW Solar Panel to drive the condensation/filtration equipment. For the millions living in or adjacent to deserts and drought-prone areas around the world, that's welcome news, indeed.

Source: Eolewater viaTreehugger

32 comments
Alien
If this machine can extract water from the really dry air in deserts, how much more could it produce in a humid climate, where clean drinking water is still needed?
Mr Stiffy
Electric chilling? I would have thought a straight compressor with a variable speed drive and temperature controlled ducting.
Tim Parnell
extra to Alien - Like Haiti for example....
Karsten Evans
Before compressor refridgeration there was cyclone refridgeration and you can get pnematic powered coolers. They are noisy so never took on. Instead of using electric maybe the wind could be gathered into cyclone units seprating cold air molycules from warmer. Then use the cold air flow to cool metal plate or heat exchange unit which then cools either normal outside air or the warmer air flow so the moisture drops out. Might be noisy but in the desert who cares. Just let the water feed into the ground so it joins the local environment. It's trees and irrigation that is needed to stop deserts expanding.. My vision is a wind gathering trumpet/trombone like mouth mounted on rotating base with a 'Dyson' cyclone unit and a simple heat exchanger... Anyone have any ideas on this?
Slowburn
If the windmill compressed air so that electricity could be produced on demand the expanding gas will provide the cold to produce condensation. ps. Use the waste heat from compression to drive another compressor.
John Comeau
the headline appears to be misleading, the energy "harvested" is used to extract the water; you don't get to use both the energy and the water. good engineering though.
StWils
Airwells were invented in ancient Iraq about 4.5 to 5 thousand years ago. Airwells consist of carefully selected, shaped and placed rocks in a spiral tower. With an optimal airspace and an exact inward tilt such that condensation drips down an interior path to a cistern, or quanat, in the ground at the base of an airwell. Roughly, a 30 ft tall tower, 15-20 ft in diameter can produce 1000 gallons of water per day. Correspondingly, during the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan one of the Soviet's essential objectives was to bomb Airwells and thereby devastate the countryside. Prior to the Soviet invasion Afghanistan had been the world's second largest exporter of dried apricots, behind Turkey. After the invasion, the Afghan people were unable to feed themselves and were driven into urban slums.
hooner
Abu Dhabi has anything but dry desert air. It is very humid much of the time. Kudos for taking advantage of this fact. Now, how to get the population to stop consuming so much water that each person would need their own personal water harvester to offset their consumption.
Slowburn
re; hooner Trying to solve problems by limiting consumption just perpetuates the problem and empowers the government. Two things I try to avoid.
joeblake
I live in Perth, Western Australia, and during the summer just ending there were daytime temperatures of over 40 degrees Centigrade, for 3-5 days in a row. I purchased a small "wheel around" refrigerated air cooler, which could produce anything up to 10 litres of "waste" water per day. Several years previously I'd bought a small "water from air condenser" (that I first saw in Gizmag) which produced over half the water, but filtered and sterilised, and quite delicious. I have 1600 watts of photovoltaic panels on the roof of my house (on-grid). The air cooler consumed a maximum of 1100 watts of power. The water condenser consumed about 900 watts when condensing, and 40 watts when pumping the condensate through its multiple filters and UV light steriliser, but did nothing to cool the air inside the house, simply reducing the humidity. So this summer I was able to run the cooler (from the photovoltaic panels) and put the condensate through the condenser filtering system. More water. And even when the outside daytime temperature was in the mid-40s, the inside temperature of the house never went above about 27 degrees Centigrade. In effect, the brighter the sun, the cooler the house. There seems to be an invention waiting. A refrigerated air-cooler with built in filtration and sterilisation that runs off the sun. A fairly high tech solution, but it seems to work well. @slowburn, I'm at a loss to understand how "limiting consumption just perpetuates the problem and empowers the government".