Automotive

Ford harnesses AC condensation to let you drink and drive

Ford harnesses AC condensation...
Air conditioner water, on tap and in-car
Air conditioner water, on tap and in-car
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Doug Martin demonstrates On-the-Go H2O
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Doug Martin demonstrates On-the-Go H2O
Air conditioner water, on tap and in-car
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Air conditioner water, on tap and in-car

When a car's air conditioner is running, water vapor in the air accumulates on its condenser, changing into a liquid state and then dripping to the ground. Doug Martin, a powertrain controls engineer at Ford, didn't like the idea of all that water being wasted. That's why he created a prototype system which collects that condensation, and repurposes it as drinking water within the car.

Martin was initially inspired by a billboard in Peru, that captures humidity in the air and renders it into drinking water. Working with colleague John Rollinger, he proceeded to build the On-the-Go H2O system, in which air conditioner condensation is collected, filtered, and then pumped into a faucet in the car's console.

So, just how much water could a setup like that produce? A lot, actually. In tests, it was found that a car's air conditioning system could sweat off 64 oz (1.9 l) of water per hour – enough to fill almost four bottles.

Doug Martin demonstrates On-the-Go H2O
Doug Martin demonstrates On-the-Go H2O

For people making long drives in the desert, that would mean less stops to buy water. Additionally, in regions where clean water is scarce, drivers could help ease the situation by bottling the water from their car and either using it themselves, or providing it to others. They could also simply run tainted water from other sources through the system, in order to make it drinkable.

There's no word on whether On-the-Go H2O will ever actually reach production. For now, though, you can see it in use in the video below.

Source: Ford via Inhabitat

Cult of Disruption Innovation: On-the-Go H2O

20 comments
StephenDavey
Not sure I would drink water that has had all that pollution flowing over it, not to mention what else is floating around in the air going through the air con.
yawood
What a great idea! I'm forever leaving home without a water bottle then wanting a drink on the way. You could carry a water bottle with you and top it up before you left the car to drink at the football or on the golf course or whatever and never buy another bottle of water. Not only that but it is pure water that has been condensed from the air and then further purified - much cleaner than anything you could drink from a local tap. @StephenDavey you don't seem to understand that this is purified water that is as good as and probably better than any bottled water that you can buy.
TomBateman
Stephen, with an appropriate food grade coating on the condenser fins; and sealed collection of condensate; the water collected will be fine for drinking even without a 1.5 micron filter. I cant see it being used economically in countries with freezing conditions however the engine has plenty of radiated heat to maintain liquidity. May need to re-position aircon radiator though
richdin
Instead of drinking water - how about filling up the windshield wiper water supply???
Terence Hawkes
I would be very worried about Legionnares's disease. Maybe a silver coating might help.
Striker
Who ever wrote this article had no knowledge of air conditioning. Condensation comes off the evaporator ! The condenser condenses refrigerant inside the coil and not the ambient air going across the coil. The people that write these articles should have at least a little knowledge of what they are writing about !
StephenMarasa
What if the person sitting near u stinks are u still goingto drink that water cause basically thats the sweat off his u no what
VirtualGathis
I agree with richdin why just drinking water? Have it top up the windshield wiper bottle (using a smaller tank for pure cleaner mix) and top off the coolant reserve tank to the radiator.
Grunchy
You have to treat the water with germicidal UV light because of airborne pathogens - but that's no big deal. If they did that with the filter, I'd drink it.
PB
The deserts I have driven through are dry - low relative humidity, so there is negligible condensation and what condensation there would be evaporates immediately. This article is clever, but flawed. Pity about that.