News Feature | December 28, 2014

Pulling Water Out Of Thin Air And Other Zany Solutions To Water Scarcity

Sara Jerome

By Sara Jerome,

Some of the most promising ideas for solving water scarcity sound like science fiction.

The Financial Times explored the top proposals in a recent article, citing practical solutions as well as those that sound a little zany.

According to the report, some of the most important innovations "are already on the market. Others are in development and some sound too far­fetched to ever come true. But all are designed to address a problem that shows little sign of fading."

One invention, created by the company Dutch Rainmaker, aims to pull water out of thin air.

The product is "a truly disruptive technology producing water off-grid, powered solely by renewable energy, with the highest energy efficiency ratings, no discharge and no need to access inflow water," according to the firm.

Drawbacks? The cost.

Mike O’Connor, chief executive of Dutch Rainmaker, said the price equals that of a small desalination machine.

Such a machine "can range in price from $400,000 to $1m. [Dutch Rainmaker] hopes to make its first sale by the end of the year," the FT reported.

Another technology geared toward tackling water scarcity is the waterless toilet. "The waterless toilet is on its way," the report said.

RTI International is among the groups working on such a system. A research institute, RTI "is developing a system that not only needs no water, but generates electricity as well. The toilet captures waste, then separates it into liquids and solids. Urine and other liquids are disinfected through an electrochemical process and the treated water can then be used to rinse the toilet," the report said.

Sewage is dried and burned, creating some heat. The heat is converted to electricity, which is used to power parts of the system, the report said.

Other promising solutions included shipping water around the world, smarter irrigation systems, the almost-waterless washer machine, and waterless fracking, according to the FT.

For more water scarcity solutions, check out Water Online's Water Scarcity Solution Center.