Remember those sweltering summer days when the air was so muggy you could practically drink it? A new home appliance is promising to make that possible by converting outdoor air into nearly 13 quarts of fresh water every day.
Originally envisioned as an antidote to the shortage of clean drinking water in the world, the WaterMill has the look of a futuristic air conditioner and the ability to condense, filter and sterilize water for about 3 cents per quart.
At $1,299, the 45-pound device doesn’t come cheap, and it is neither the first nor the biggest machine to enter the fast-growing field of atmospheric water generators. But by targeting individual households with a self-cleaning, environmentally friendly alternative to bottled water, Kelowna, British Columbia-based Element Four is hoping its WaterMill will become the new must-have appliance of 2009.
… The WaterMill was designed to overcome that issue with a self-sterilizing condensation chamber that boasts a reflective wall surrounding its condensation coil. During the machine’s daily sterilization cycle, UV light ricochets off the wall and efficiently sterilizes both the front and back sides of the coil. … Most environments around the world have plenty of water vapor that can be converted into liquid water. In fact, if you could wring out all the water in the air around the world and pour it into a lake, its volume would equal about 3,095 cubic miles, or more than that of Lake Superior, according to the U.S. Geological Survey.
Element Four estimates that its machine can convert between 10 percent and 40 percent of vapor into liquid water, depending on the relative humidity.
In 91 degree heat with 69 percent relative humidity, the machine tops out at a little less than 13 quarts per day. And because water vapor is continually replenished though the planet’s water cycle, removing it from the air could continue indefinitely without disrupting local ecosystems.
… Ritchey said his company decided on the 13-quart capacity to maximize efficiency. Marketing data suggested that the typical family uses about half that amount of drinking water per day. But based on public perceptions that 6.5 quarts wouldn’t be enough, the company doubled the amount.
Other companies have begun producing upright units for indoor use or scaled-up outdoor units supported by fans and compressors that are capable of producing hundreds or even thousands of gallons of water per day. Miami Beach, Fla.-based Air Water Corporation, for example, can produce more than 1,000 gallons of water from a 3.5-ton mobile unit that resembles a small trailer.