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article imageCompany uses solar panel technology to make water from air

By Karen Graham     Oct 20, 2016 in Technology
Scottsdale - A Scottsdale, Arizona start-up company, Zero Mass Water has developed a system that uses solar panels to produce drinking water from the sun and air.
The system is called Source and is being tested in water scarce countries in Ecuador, Jordan, and Mexico. Using solar panels, the system pulls moisture from the atmosphere to provide clean drinking water.
The man behind this technology is Zero Mass Water’s CEO, Cody Friesen, a U.S. scientist whose previous company makes batteries serving as a power source in remote villages in four continents, reports Inhabitat. Friesen says, "We started this company to provide water to everyone, everywhere."
Zero Mass Water
With the Source setup, one solar panel can provide potable water for a family of four, and multiple panels can provide water for large facilities, such as a hospital. The company raised $7.02 million to back a series of pilot projects to prove how simple cost effective access to clean water can be.
Zero Mass Water is working in partnership with Duke Energy on a project in the port city of Guayaquil, Ecuador. Around 250,000 people live on the outskirts of Guayaquil and must rely on water sold from trucks because drinking water in this area is of very poor quality and can cost more than half of a family's income.
Friesen says, "Everybody's heard about the latest nano filter this...or whatever the latest pump technology is. None of those end up being sort of the leapfrog technology that addresses the fact that drinking water is a fundamental human right, and yet we have one person dying every 10 seconds from waterborne illness on the planet."
Zero Mass Water
How does the Source system work?
Source works by passively absorbing moisture from the air using a special humectant material. In turn, the solar panel converts solar energy into electricity that is used to power the process that drives the water back out of the collection material. The water is then evaporated to remove pollutants.
"Basically everybody who runs an air conditioner makes water from the air," says Friesen. "That part's not the magic part. We do that really, really efficiently, independent of infrastructure. We do that in a way that what you have as a result is essentially double distilled water. Ultra pure water."
But what happens to the water next is the truly innovative part: water is then run through a mineral block that adds calcium and magnesium, making it taste better, says Friesen. He also points out that having water in the home also saves time, citing the women in Sub-Saharan Africa that need to walk miles each day to get drinking water.
A Source pilot program in Ecuador shows that one solar panel can provide drinking water for a family...
A Source pilot program in Ecuador shows that one solar panel can provide drinking water for a family of four.
Zero Mass Water
But Friesen is not just looking at supplying water to the countries most needing the technology. "There are many people in the world...kind of the 'middle billion,' who have jobs and make maybe modest sums of money compared to you or me, but they live a life that is pretty close to what we live," says Friesen. "Except that their infrastructure stinks, so they end up buying a lot of bottled water."
Friesen also mentions the 5,300 water systems in the United States with lead problems. The Source system could be an alternative to buying bottled water all the time. He is hoping that in a few more years, the solar panels will become a common sight around the world.
"When you think about solar today, what do you think about? Electricity," he says. "Everybody thinks that way. I think that in a few years when people think about solar they'll also think about water abundance."
More about zero mass water, Solar panels, Solar energy, potable water, Duke energy
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