This Solar Panel Produces Up to 5 Liters of Drinking Water Per Day From the Air

©. Zero Mass Water

Zero Mass Water's Source device is a rooftop solar device that produces water instead of just electricity.

With the virtual explosion of rooftop solar arrays producing clean electricity, the future of democratized power is bright, but when it comes to water, we don't have nearly as many options. Most of us are directly tied into the local water supply, which is great when it works well, and horrible when it doesn't (as evidenced by the recent and ongoing travesties in communities such as Flint, Michigan), and although some homes may capture rainwater for irrigation, or have their own well, there aren't a lot of alternative choices for getting clean drinking water, other than purchasing bottled water.

However, there are some up-and-coming water innovations that could be put into play at homes and businesses that would allow people to have more control over their own drinking water supply. In recent years, the idea of pulling water vapor from the air and condensing it into drinking water is getting a whole lot more attention, and not just in off-grid areas and in the developing world, but also right here in suburbia and urban areas as well. One company that offers a localized clean water solution is Zero Mass Water, and its Source device looks to be a promising addition to homes or businesses that want to gain some water sovereignty.

Zero Mass Water, an Arizona State University spin-off startup based in Scottsdale, has developed a "drinking water solar panel" that is a standalone system requiring no wired or water input connections, and the company has been installing its SOURCE device in pilot programs on homes and in communities since 2015.

A single unit has a physical footprint of 2.8 square meters, generates its own electricity from a solar photovoltaic panel (and stores some of that electricity in an integrated lithium-ion battery for keeping water pressure up after dark), and uses that electricity to drive a cycle of condensation and evaporation that can produce 2 to 5 liters of water per day.

A 30-liter reservoir holds the generated water and allows for the distilled water to have minerals added to it for taste, and the output can be plumbed directly to a tap inside the home or business. Multiple SOURCE units can be installed in an array in order to generate the appropriate amount of water to meet the needs of the owner.

According to the company, the only maintenance or financial input required by the SOURCE is a new air filter every year, and a new mineral cartridge every 5 years, which means that after the initial purchase and install, the owner can essentially own their own drinking water supply with minimal inputs. Although pricing on the units hasn't been publicly announced yet, Phoenix Business Journal states the price as $4,800, "which includes the $3,200 panel and $1,600 for an additional panel." Part of the company's goal is global water democratization, so customers will be asked to help underwrite part of the cost of additional SOURCE units for people living in areas with little to no water infrastructure.

"When you purchase SOURCE panels for your home, you will own your water for the first time. In order to purchase that panel, we will ask you to split the cost of an additional panel with Zero Mass Water. The panel that you split with us will go to a community of your choosing, a family who will leapfrog poor or non-existent infrastructure. As their SOURCE gets installed you will accelerate water democratization. You get to choose the region and then our partners around the world identify families with little or no clean water (to start with, located in Latin America, the Middle East, and underserved in the US). These families will not receive a panel for free, but will instead purchase it for the cost of getting it to them and installing it. Together, both households own their water." - Cody Friesen, Founder and CEO of Zero Mass Water