Rooftop solar energy panels providing the required electric supply in power deficit regions have been quite popular, but generating clean drinking water from solar panels is still not much heard of.
In our planet where more than 1.2 billion people lack access to clean drinking water and more than 3.4 million deaths from water borne diseases are reported every year, such innovative drinking water generation system is indeed the need of the hour.
The days are not far off when water generation from solar panels would be ubiquitous quenching the thirst of millions. Thanks to the Arizona State University startup group Zero Mass Water for developing such a system with solar panels installed on rooftops. This would even enable people residing in remote areas deprived of public water supply have better control over their regular drinking water supply.
Water water everywhere – every single drop to drink!
It is just trapping the moisture or water vapor from the air and condensing it into liquid, a mechanism that we experience in our air conditioners. This appears to be highly promising not only in the economically backward off-the-grid areas but in the urban business and dwelling areas as well.
Own your drinking water:
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Addressing the basic human right to have access to clean drinking water, Zero Mass Water has been carrying on pilot projects since 2015 in different countries like Mexico, Ecuador and Jordan and in US offering localized drinking water solution.
A single unit of the SOURCE (as it is named) panel sized 2.8 square meters loaded with photovoltaic cells generates electricity and stores a part of it as well in the lithium-ion battery integrated with the panel to maintain the water pressure in the dark. The electricity is used to run a condensation and evaporation cycle and can produce 2-5 liters water per day.
The panels do not require any wired connection and can be fixed on the rooftop easily. The SOURCE panel uses a special humectant material for absorbing moisture from the air. The water generated through electricity-driven cycle is evaporated to free it from pollutants ultimately leaving behind the clean drinking water safe for consumption.
For household drinking purpose comprising a family of 4, one standard sized solar panel can provide the required quantity of drinking water. Multiple panels are required for community purpose depending on the population of the consumers.
The water generated is collected into a 30 liter capacity reservoir and is run through a mineral bed for taste enhancement prior consumption. This ultra purified water then can be flowed directly into household tap and water connections for use. Depending upon the consumption level, one can install multiple soar panel units.
Cost effective drinking water system:
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The annual maintenance cost to be borne by the consumer is quite affordable. It would require replacement of the air filter every year and the mineral cartridge after every 5 years. In true sense, the SOURCE panel enables the consumer own his/her drinking water.
The economically backward class and the middle income group can save a lot from procuring bottled drinking water which they are compelled to due to inadequate water supply system.
The initial installation cost of the solar panel as it is presumed would be $4800. This would include $3200 for a single panel and $1600 for an additional panel which would be split up with the Zero Mass Water to help in providing water to any underdeveloped community lacking proper drinking water supply.
This price-split is objected towards the democratization of drinking water, the company’s goal where the customers buying the solar panel for self purpose are asked to extend their financial support for community development.
The standalone passive drinking water source to provide relief to millions:
Backed by a strong funding from leading investors, this start up is planning to provide fresh drinking water to 100,000 Jordanian households and Syrian refugees in the country by 2017. Though the pilot programs have been mainly aimed in underdeveloped countries lacking water supply infrastructure, but there can be no reason that this system will not be useful in urban settlements in near future.
Lead contamination in public water system and the rising cost of bottled mineral water can be tackled to a great extent with the installation of SOURCE water generation panels that guarantee hundred percent clean and safe drinking water.