Atmosphere to Water Generators: Veggies in the Desert
The world is facing a water crisis. Atmosphere to Water Generators (AWGs) can help alleviate this problem in hot, dry locations.
As the population grows and climate change intensifies, water resources have become increasingly unpredictable and erratic. In arid environments, such as deserts, water is especially scarce. This is a major challenge for agriculture, as water is essential for growing food.
There has been growing interest in developing new technologies to produce water from air in recent years. The idea is not new; throughout history, ancient cultures have used dew fences and other passive means to harvest moisture from the air – even the very dry air of deserts. A quick look online shows several free or near-to-free ways to generate water, such as Kumulus water generators; solar-powered machines capable of producing 20 to 30 liters of healthy drinking water daily.
A new study published in Cell Reports Physical Science has demonstrated the potential of Atmosphere to Water Generators to produce water in arid environments using waste heat from solar panels. With SolarAtmosphere to Water Generators, it may be possible to grow food in the desert without relying on scarce freshwater resources. This could address the global water crisis and provide food security for a growing population.
How Atmosphere to Water Generators Work
Atmosphere to Water Generators work by using the heat from sunlight to evaporate water from the air. The water vapor is then condensed into liquid water. The process of evaporation requires energy, and the heat from sunlight provides this energy. The water vapor is then condensed into liquid water by cooling it down. This can be done by passing the water vapor through a cold pipe or by using a fan to blow cold air over it.
Atmosphere to Water Generators are typically made up of two main components: a solar collector and a condenser. The solar collector is used to collect the heat from sunlight. The condenser is used to condense the water vapor into liquid water.
Solar First then Water
In the system explained by the Cell Reports Physical Science study, the system was first designed to enable solar panels to work more efficiently; water production was just a happy byproduct.
Solar panels have been getting better and cheaper in recent years, but overall they still are relatively inefficient. This inefficiency is made worse by heat – a big problem for systems located in very hot deserts. Further, just like any other piece of electronics, a solar panel lasts longer when kept cool, which is also a problem in a harsh desert environment.
The solution was to coat the back of the panels with hydrogel, a product that absorbs water from the air at night, then releases it through evaporation as it heats during the day. As the water evaporates, it cools the solar panels making them work more efficiently and last longer.
This evaporated water is then captured and saved for crop irrigation. Deserts are places of extreme heat – daytime temperatures are hot, but nighttimes are very cool, making them the perfect place to maximize the performance of a system like this.
The study found that Solar Atmosphere to Water Generators can produce up to 1.5 liters of water per day per square meter of solar cell area. This is enough water to support the growth of vegetables in a desert environment.
The study’s findings can potentially revolutionize agriculture in arid environments, said the authors.
Challenges and Opportunities
There are a number of challenges that need to be addressed before Atmosphere to Water Generators can be widely adopted. One challenge is the cost. They are still relatively expensive, but the cost is expected to come down as the technology is developed further and the costs may be negligible when included in the design and commissioning of a large solar farm. More so when combined with the benefits of increased solar panel efficiency and lifespan.
Another challenge is efficiency. Solar Atmosphere to Water Generators are not yet as efficient as other methods of water production, such as desalination. However, due to the fact is essentially a passive system with very little maintenance and low cost, the efficiency of Solar Atmosphere to Water Generators is not as important as other types, and of course, the cost is expected to improve as the technology is developed further.
Despite these challenges, Solar Atmosphere to Water Generators have the potential to make a significant contribution to solving the global water crisis. With continued research and development, they could become a major water source for agriculture in arid environments.
Source Happy Eco NewsJune 28, 2023