The Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA) has announced an Aussie-first trial of a solar powered water producing device that extracts drinking water from the air.
The portable SOURCE hydropanel system, from US-based Zero Mass Water, sucks moisture from the atmosphere using solar power. The process purifies and also adds minerals to ensure the water is 100 per cent safe for consumption.
Depending on climate conditions, the SOURCE system can produce up to 4-10 litres of clean drinking water on a typical day.
Solar power plus battery equals clean water
The system uses solar power, plus a small battery to provide constant water harvesting even on cloudy days.
ARENA is providing $420,000 to fund the deployment of 150 solar powered drinking water devices across Australia. The $821,500 total project will demonstrate the technology not yet seen in Australia.
The pilot project will trial SOURCE in various locations including airports, cafes, community centres, commercial buildings and sustainable properties.
It aims to improve access to water in drought-stricken communities, along with reducing reliance on bottled water.
Solar technology captures water, eliminates plastic waste
According to Zero Mass Water, a standard two-panel solar array operating at 20°C produces enough water to fill a 12-pack of 500ml bottled water.
This equates to the displacement of 20,000 plastic bottles over 15 years.
Part of the ARENA trial involves a third party study to examine the environmental impact of plastic bottles in Australia.
“This project can produce reliable drought-resistant water sources while simultaneously reducing the amount of plastic bottles that end up in landfill,” said ARENA CEO Ivor Frischknecht.
A successful roll out of the solar device could create a new product for Australia’s solar industry, Mr Frischknecht added.
Simple solar powered water system can be tailored to fit
SOURCE differs from other solar water harvesting systems, which usually rely on ambient heat and complicated substrates to draw water from the atmosphere.
Every standard residential SOURCE array is made up of two solar “hydropanels”. The panels are relatively small, measuring 1.2 metres by 2.4 metres.
One “primary” panel comes standard, while the additional panel is customised to suit drinking requirements.
Each panel is capable of holding 30 litres of water in a reservoir. Standard arrays come with 60 litres of water storage capacity.
The water produced by the solar panels meets Australian drinking water contaminant guidelines.