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World’s first solar-powered project to extract drinking water from thin air


According to World Health Organization (WHO), nearly 785 million people are still without access to clean, safe drinking water. Several projects are popping up across the world – such as Solar Desalination Skylight, water desalination using solar energy, and more – to solve this issue.


Now, the United Arab Emirates (UAE) is planning to install “water generators” that turn moisture in the air into drinking water for public consumption. New technology will extract clean water from the atmosphere in commercial volumes and operate 24/7 using clean energy.


The innovative pilot project will be run by U.S.-based water technologies company AQUOVUM, in partnership with Masdar and Khalifa University of Science and Technology, as part of a three-party research and development agreement. The technology, which produces commercial volumes of an uninterrupted water supply from a sustainable source, making it carbon-free, is being tested as part of a pilot this October. If successful, the project will be rolled out in Masdar – a futuristic ‘sustainable city’ currently being built next to Abu Dhabi airport.


The “hyper-dehumidifier” is powered by environmentally-friendly solar energy and provides a plentiful and uninterrupted water supply from the humid UAE air. A modified shipping crate is to be the world’s first carbon-neutral water generator when it is installed in a futuristic eco-city to Abu Dhabi’s main airport in October.


A bank of 20 hyper-humidifiers dehumidifiers can produce 6,700 liters of freshwater a day when local conditions are at 78°F (26°C) and 60% humidity or more if conditions allow.


Masdar City is powered by an impressive 22-hectare (54-acre) field of 87,777 solar panels, as well as additional panels on the roofs of its buildings. These solar panels help power the generator’s massive fans, which suck moisture-packed air from the surrounding environment. The pipes filled with this air are circulated with a liquid coolant to cool the air down until it reaches the dew point when water vapor condenses into liquid water. The water is then collected and purified for drinking.


If the pilot goes well, the water generators will be installed at Khalifa University’s Masdar Institute Solar Platform in Masdar City, which is still only partially finished.


“The project will positively contribute to regional and global water security in line with the UAE Water Security Strategy 2036, and as the only planned and approved R&D cluster in Abu Dhabi, we are committed to facilitating R&D projects that bring ground-breaking new technologies to the world and contribute to building a more sustainable future for all. Masdar City is already home to over 900 companies, dedicated to developing innovative technologies across the sectors of renewables, energy storage, water, artificial intelligence, health, space, and mobility,” said Abdulla Balalaa, Executive Director, Sustainable Real Estate in Masdar City.

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