Outdoors

Mobile H2O generator pulls drinking water from air for off-grid nomads

Mobile H2O generator pulls dri...
At roughly 33 lb, the Mobile Box is made to be easily carried and transported, unlike previous Watergen designs that were either fixed in place or required trailers or dedicated vehicles to transport
At roughly 33 lb, the Mobile Box is made to be easily carried and transported, unlike previous Watergen designs that were either fixed in place or required trailers or dedicated vehicles to transport
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Carry the Watergen Mobile Box on your next camping trip and you'll be able to literally create potable water out of thin air
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Carry the Watergen Mobile Box on your next camping trip and you'll be able to literally create potable water out of thin air
The Ford Ranger Tremor SEMA truck developed in conjunction with Outside magazine looks like your typical overland show truck, but it served as the premiere venue for the Watergen Mobile Box
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The Ford Ranger Tremor SEMA truck developed in conjunction with Outside magazine looks like your typical overland show truck, but it served as the premiere venue for the Watergen Mobile Box
Watergen has most recently been focused on its mobile lineup, but just several months ago it installed a large fixed AWG in a Navajo Nation community
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Watergen has most recently been focused on its mobile lineup, but just several months ago it installed a large fixed AWG in a Navajo Nation community
It's certainly larger than many water-purification solutions, but the Mobile Box can supply drinking water where water sources like springs and rivers are nowhere to be found
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It's certainly larger than many water-purification solutions, but the Mobile Box can supply drinking water where water sources like springs and rivers are nowhere to be found
A different style of off-grid overland kitchen, Ford puts the Watergen Mobile Box to work next to a BioLite firepit/grill and slide-out fridge/freezer
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A different style of off-grid overland kitchen, Ford puts the Watergen Mobile Box to work next to a BioLite firepit/grill and slide-out fridge/freezer
Pouring fresh water from the Watergen GEN-M in Arizona; this large unit supplies up to 211 gallons of fresh water a day
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Pouring fresh water from the Watergen GEN-M in Arizona; this large unit supplies up to 211 gallons of fresh water a day
Plug the Watergen Mobile Box into a car, caravan or portable power supply and let it get to work collecting water for the campsite
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Plug the Watergen Mobile Box into a car, caravan or portable power supply and let it get to work collecting water for the campsite
At roughly 33 lb, the Mobile Box is made to be easily carried and transported, unlike previous Watergen designs that were either fixed in place or required trailers or dedicated vehicles to transport
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At roughly 33 lb, the Mobile Box is made to be easily carried and transported, unlike previous Watergen designs that were either fixed in place or required trailers or dedicated vehicles to transport
The Watergen On Board will have to battle with air conditioners, skylights, solar panels, roof racks and other popular rooftop camper gear, but if it wins out, it'll supply up to 50 liters of water a day to your mobile home
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The Watergen On Board will have to battle with air conditioners, skylights, solar panels, roof racks and other popular rooftop camper gear, but if it wins out, it'll supply up to 50 liters of water a day to your mobile home
The Watergen On Board system integrates neatly with an RV's plumbing system
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The Watergen On Board system integrates neatly with an RV's plumbing system
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For over a decade, Israeli atmospheric water generator (AWG) company Watergen has been one of the players working to refine and grow air-to-water technology that can efficiently pull water vapor out of the air and collect it as fresh, filtered drinking water. Its previous work has focused heavily on large installations to supply communities, businesses and households, and its latest innovations shrink the water-harvesting tech into a form portable enough for overlanders, RVers, tiny home dwellers and other off-grid explorers.

The last time we ran into Watergen's work was at CES 2019, where it showed the Automotive AWG system. The center-console-integrated system was one of the wondrous highlights of the show, but it seemed an odd, limited use for a technology with such potential, a strange detour on a larger journey. Does the average passenger car driver really need a water tap over the cupholders?

If a mobile air-to-water generator is to find a following amongst drivers, it would be a far better fit for vehicles that spend long hours traveling through places without much access to water – motorhomes and camping trailers, specialized remote-work trucks and vans, and perhaps long-haul tractor-trailers, to name a few examples.

Carry the Watergen Mobile Box on your next camping trip and you'll be able to literally create potable water out of thin air
Carry the Watergen Mobile Box on your next camping trip and you'll be able to literally create potable water out of thin air

Watergen has made a clear move in that direction with the new mobility lineup it showcased earlier this week at Israel's Smart Mobility Initiative. The most versatile member of the Watergen mobility family is the simply named Mobile Box. It looks something like a traditional portable generator, only instead of burning fuel to create electricity, it uses electricity to pull water from the air around it.

Plug the Mobile Box into a 12- or 220-V vehicle outlet, and the unit sucks in air through a fan, runs it through a filtration system on the way to the patented heat exchanger that extracts water out through condensation, processes it through a multi-level filtration system that includes UV light, and stores it in a reservoir. Users can pour the water through the tap or remove the entire reservoir. Watergen lists average power consumption at 350 watts, peak consumption at 480 watts, and noise level at less than or equal to 52 dBA.

Watergen says that the Mobile Box can produce up to 20 liters of water per day, an amount that matches perfectly with many 20-L (5-gal) jerry cans that car campers use to transport water. The removable internal water tank should presumably be easy enough to dump into a separate storage container to free up for more fresh water production.

While compact for an AWG, the 33-lb (15-kg) empty Mobile Box is still quite large when compared to the many water filter and purifier solutions on the market, some of which can be carried in a pocket. It does, however, provide a viable option for areas where finding water to purify might prove a problem. Assuming it works reliably, it could cut the amount of water with which campers set out, thereby offsetting its own weight and volume in saved water canister volume and stored water weight.

The Watergen On Board system integrates neatly with an RV's plumbing system
The Watergen On Board system integrates neatly with an RV's plumbing system

RVers looking for a more streamlined design will find it in Watergen's "On Board" system, which puts the main heat exchanger unit on the roof of the vehicle, where it sits much like an air conditioner. It then cycles the water through the RV plumbing to the faucet(s). That version makes up to 50 liters (13 gal) of drinking water per day.

Watergen is far from the only entity working this particular corner of the market. From nano to macro; from contests, to university research, to world records; from dense desert fog to sunny seawater; and from trailerable portables to full-blown buildings, we've seen the theme of atmospheric water generation pop up again and again ever since we began covering tech nearly two decades ago.

Watergen's Mobile Box is a smaller, more portable design than other products we've seen, but it's not the only model in that category, either. Earlier this year, Oklahoma-based Exaersis Water Innovations presented its own portable AWG for campers and off-grid travelers at virtual CES and again at Outdoor Retailer Summer Market. Its AquaTap has a slightly more digital, high-tech look to it and promises the same rate of 20 liters per day.

It looks as though Exaersis and Watergen might be competing to get their mobile systems to market, as neither is available for purchase yet. Exaersis said in a July announcement that it plans to have the AquaTap available for retail purchase in early 2022. Watergen also plans to bring its first mobile products to market in 2022.

A different style of off-grid overland kitchen, Ford puts the Watergen Mobile Box to work next to a BioLite firepit/grill and slide-out fridge/freezer
A different style of off-grid overland kitchen, Ford puts the Watergen Mobile Box to work next to a BioLite firepit/grill and slide-out fridge/freezer

Prior to being on show at the Smart Mobility Initiative this week, the Mobile Box made a debut in the bed of a Ford Ranger Tremor overland show truck at last week's SEMA show. Developed by Ford and Outside magazine, the concept demonstrates how Watergen's 21.7 x 15.8 x 15.8-in (55 x 40 x 40-cm) water maker box could easily integrate into a camper truck. In the concept, it fits neatly next to a slide-out ARB fridge/freezer and in front of a BioLite FirePit.

It might have a more difficult time squeezing into a space-challenged camper, but the Mobile Box appears to work quite well within the framework of an open pickup bed below a lifted rooftop tent. Campers would certainly want to carry a primary water tank or canister(s), but the Mobile Box would make a nice backup, taking the place of the onboard water collecting/filtration systems that are sometimes built into expedition trucks and trailers, whether for emergency use or just adding supplies for a longer trip.

The video below takes a closer look at how the On Board system integrates into a camper van.

Watergen Water from Air Generators for RVs

Source: Watergen

View gallery - 10 images
11 comments
11 comments
Bodger
That will be handy if I get stuck in the Atacama Desert -- being able to suck water out of the air would be amazing. No, wait, isn't the Atacama basically bereft of moisture of any sort?
Malatrope
Nice system, but a serious CGI fail in the video: why is the guy sitting in the doorway drinking a glass of water smaller than the guitar that's leaned against the van next to him?
Username
Surprising they don't target boats. I wonder what the price will be in comparison to "water makers". I'm also curious if it can deal with salt in the air.
Trylon
If you're going to use the engine to run the alternator to power this device to extract water, how about reclaiming the water from the exhaust as well? After all, burning a gallon of gasoline creates about a gallon of water (and a lot of CO2, but that's a story for a different time).
BlueOak
This would be interesting for our off grid property where we have to haul in water.

But cooking and drinking water is easy to haul in.

Shower water is a bigger deal. 3-5 gallons per person would cover it.

Good to see there is competition - without knowing the price, no idea whether it makes sense.
christopher
I remember touring Namibia's old diamond-mine sites - I learned that they *hated* de-sal water (same as what this makes) *SO* much, that they bought real water in by ship to drink.
Oirinth
"up to 20 litres of water per day" is a bit vague, is that the amount you get running it 24 hours a day or is this a daylight only day? or 8 hours? or is there a max amount of time you can run it before it needs to stop and cool?
Bob Mavet
Found this 21.13 Gallon/80 Liter mobile unit https://www.greentechnologyglobal.com/80L_Portable.htm
Michael son of Lester
Interesting. One of my friends who lives way off-grid in Arizona could use one of these. The water from his well is way too hard to drink. So, he has to drive almost 50 miles to the nearest town to stock up on drinking water.
Rustgecko
The trouble is places with lots of water in the atmosphere, are places with clouds, rain, streams and rivers.
Places that need this technology have dry air with no water in it.
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