News Feature | January 25, 2019

Jeff Bezos, Bill Gates Back Solar Panels That Extract Water From Air

Peter Chawaga - editor

By Peter Chawaga

solar.reg

With backing from two of the biggest tech entrepreneurs in American history, a new solar-powered solution to water scarcity has raised a massive amount of money.

“In September, a $1 billion fund led by Bill Gates, Jeff Bezos, and other investors helped finance the efforts of Zero Mass Water, a startup making solar panels that pull clean drinking water from the air,” Business Insider reported. “The panel arrays, known as Source, use sunlight to harvest water from air vapor. The harvested vapor is then sterilized and turned to liquid, which is stored in a reservoir that connects to your home faucet.”

Although the tech will not initially apply to municipal or industrial water sourcing or treatment, it may be a powerful solution at point-of-use for individual consumers around the globe.

The products costs $2,500 including installation and can deliver between 2 and 5 liters of water every day, per Business Insider. Though still relatively new, Source is functioning in several drought-stricken locales around the world.

“Since launching the product in 2015, Zero Mass Water has gone on to install its panels in 18 different countries, from an orphanage in Lebanon to multimillion-dollar mansions in California,” per Business Insider.

The panels leverage hygroscopic material to absorb water in the air and solar thermal power to process it. Sensing technology is used to determine the quality.

It is fairly easy to imagine a future in which drinking water utilities leverage Source or a similar product to gather, treat, and deliver drinking water on a larger scale. However, for now, one of the product’s main features is that it is independent from larger municipal networks.

“Each of of these panels is an independent water supply, entirely independent of the grid,” Cody Friesen, CEO of Zero Mass Water, told VentureBeat. “Each one produces water, stores it, mineralizes it, ozonates it to make sure it’s sterile. It has an 80 PSI pump to deliver to a tap. That all connects to the cloud, so we know in real time that the water is perfect.”

To read more about novel solutions to drought visit Water Online’s Source Water Scarcity Solutions Center.

Image credit: "Panels," Alan Levine © 2013, used under an Attribution 2.0 Generic license: https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/