We live on Earth, and here only 3% of water is drinkable. The irony! However, If there is any way of drawing out pure water from the air, wouldn’t that be nice? Well, there are!
A team of scientists at GE (General Electric), working for the US military, developing a 3D printed gadget to transform air into water.
Air is a liquid composed of mostly nitrogen, oxygen, CO2, and other small elements. In this composition, we also find water vapor between 0.2% and 4% of the air, depending on temperature. We know this as humidity. Humid air is moist air, and moist air equals pleasing H2O. The scarcity of water is a concern for the whole world. In this case, the study intends to address the logistical challenges linked with transporting drinkable water to troops at various locations in the world.
Water from the Air
The project is supported by DARPA’s under Atmospheric Water Extraction (AWE) program, besides explaining that this topic is trending right now. GE Research has received 14.3 million USD from DARPA to develop a device that could produce drinkable water from the air for up to 150 companies. The gadget will be small enough to be shouldered by just four men.
GE Research named this project AIR2WATER, which stands for Additively Manufactured, Integrated Reservoir To Extract Water using Adsorbents and Thermally-Enhanced Recovery.
“Today, the logistics and expenses associated with transporting water are huge and in a threatening war zone, resulting in casualties,” said David Moore, Principal Investigator of the project at GE Research. “By designing a compact gadget that efficaciously draws out water from the air, we can help and ease the logistical and economic hardship for our armed forces.”
GE stated that the logistics expenses of transporting water for armed forces are one-third of the Department of Defense budget. The GE Research team will use their skill and knowledge from heat exchangers in aerospace and power generation and implement it in this project. The gadget depends on the development of sorbent elements, which absorb the air. The AM (Additive manufacturing) metal heat exchangers extract heat across the sorbent materials, delivering the water as a condensed (and drinkable) fluid.
UC Berkeley is working on the development of sorbent materials. The University of South Alabama will select material and evaluate the adsorption kinetics. There are numerous efforts of analysis in this field these days, and 3D printing is just one approach that may carry this technology to fruition. We wish this tech trickles down into the public hands in the future.