Water scarcity is a growing problem around the world. Made worse by a changing climate, it's a problem that strikes faraway places as well as places closer to home. But water shortages generally affect those places with the most sunlight. What if one could turn this surplus of sun into a water supply? That's the question that Dutch company SunGlacier is trying to answer in the development of a cheap, solar-powered "water-maker" that uses the power of condensation to create water out of thin air. Take a look:
As Inhabitat explains, SunGlacier's DC03 uses an inexpensive, 18-watt Peltier element to create water slowly -- about half a cup every six hours. While this may not seem like much, the DC03 has other attractive features to it, such as the lack of moving parts like a fan that can break down, and it doesn't need a battery or an inverter to run. Its lifespan is dependent only on the cheap, 30 to 50-watt solar panel it needs to run, meaning that it could be years before anything needs to be replaced. A "buck" or step-down converter is incorporated to regulate the Peltier voltage within a safe range of 12 volts.
The DC03 is most effective in warm air and works thanks to a $3 Peltier element, a small piece of electronic equipment that's capable of thermoelectric cooling. When an electric current is run through it, one side will heat up, while the other side will be cold. This temperature difference -- which reaches a maximum of 67 degrees Celsius (152.5 Fahrenheit) -- will cause the moisture in the air to condense. This condensation forms on the outer surface of an aluminum cone that is connected to colder side of the element, thus generating drops of water that can be collected.
According to SunGlacier director and artist Ap Verheggen, the design has been tested, but not optimized. That's why the company is offering the design information -- for free -- online, encouraging the public to modify and share any improvements.
With recent research estimating that over 4 billion people worldwide are currently facing severe water shortages, we need solutions -- and fast. A collaborative, open-source approach such as this makes sense, spurring the development of new tools to help humans adapt that much quicker. To find out more, visit SunGlacier and go here to find out more on how the DC03 is made.