Imagine a system that can extract water from air, bringing hope to millions living in isolated communities.
The new technology involves cooling only the moisture that has been extracted from the air, significantly reducing the amount of energy required to produce water.
-Prof. Eran Friedler
Access to fresh water is one of the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) adopted by the United Nations in 2015. Now, Technion research is offering a stand-alone system that just might hack the colossal challenge of world water shortages.
The energy-efficient system is based on a two-stage cyclic process: separation of moisture from the air by absorption using a highly concentrated saline solution, and separation of the moisture from the desiccant and condensing the vapor under sub-atmospheric pressure conditions.
“Besides being energy efficient, the new technology offers an additional advantage: as part of the process the water undergoes also pollutant removal processes,” said Prof. Broday. “Our technology turns water into a commodity as it enables water to be produced anywhere in the world. Our prototype demonstrates that the system works as predicted and we are currently working on turning it into a commercially viable product.”
“Existing technologies work as “reverse” air conditioners, by cooling the whole air mass entering the system in order to condense the moisture,” adds Prof. Friedler. “This approach is energetically inefficient, wasting much of the energy requirements on cooling about 97% of the air volume, which is non-condensable. The new technology involves cooling only the moisture that has been extracted from the air, significantly reducing the amount of energy required to produce water.”
The technology was developed by Profs. David Broday and Eran Friedler with graduate student Ben Gido and chief engineer Ilan Katz from the Environmental, Water and Agricultural Engineering Division of the Faculty of Civil and Environmental Engineering, and the Stephen and Nancy Grand Water Research Institute (GWRI). It is the first technology of its kind in the world.