This updates Mairi's post from 2006, called "Water Harvesting Now Works in Deserts."
Aqua Sciences is redefining water harvesting technology, according to a recent article in Wired Magazine. The firm, now under government contract to hydrate U.S. soldiers in Iraq, has developed a product which creates water out of thin air "virtually everywhere."
Stateside, it seems Aqua has, since 2006, hooked up with a very different type of FEMA trailer. Per the Aqua website: "The 40 foot container with the reverse osmosis module can provide emergency water for up to 3,000 people per day." By scattering these units (pictured) around Atlanta GA during next summer's water crisis - during which area water bottlers will be out of feedstock - the National Guard, already stressed from Iraq, can park the water tanker trucks and maybe just keep these running.
We're really hoping they give FEMA a little of that Green Religion and get them out of the bottled water rut.
Aqua Sciences™ atmospheric water extraction machines can be furnished and installed in disaster sites, urban, rural and isolated communities to capture, purify and dispense water of superior quality on demand.
Current machines can provide between 350-1,200 gallons of water per day with a target price of approximately $0.25 per gallon dependent upon actual conditions and costs.
Machines may be powered by electricity or a self-contained diesel generator and are environmentally friendly due to lower energy requirements and no harmful or toxic by-products.
What's the magic tech? Well...we can only speculate, not having peeked inside one of these boxes, but one possibility would be a regenerable matrix of an organic (synthetic) molecular sieve compound, as described here. The key to functional efficiency would be to have an extremely thin layer of the synthetic mol-sieve distributed over a very high surface area. Other technologies certainly are plausible. Let's see if any of our readers have further insights?
Update: Via Forbes Magazine article, we learned that "It uses hygroscopic salts to attract water molecules from the air, and then extracts the water from the solution. The salts also act as a natural decontaminant."
Image credit::Aqua Sciences.