Date:26 June 2017
The Sahara desert is one of the driest, hottest places on Earth. Finding water in a place as arid as the Sahara desert could revolutionise the way people harvest water all over the world. And this is why Dutch company SunGlacier is trying to harvest water here.
SunGlacier has developed an artificial water well known as the Desert Twins harvester that harvests water from the air. Researchers have been working on harvesting water for quite some time, with a couple of similar projects currently being tested.
SunGlacier’s initial testing in their Netherlands-based research studio proved successful. But now they faced their biggest challenge: could the Desert Twins harvest water in the Sahara desert?
The video below shows the device’s success in the research studio.
The SunGlacier project
The Desert Twins contains two units inspired by the Moon Landers spacecraft. The one twin is the water maker that uses energy to cool down a metal plate. The second contains the energy unit and stores the solar power.
The team soon realised that making water out of thin in the driest conditions would be a huge challenge. “The first three days of testing were frustrating; our own sweat was the only liquid produced,” said founder Ap Verheggen in a press release.
“Despite the fact that during the course of the day the water maker was located in the shadow of the solar panel, the unit was still too hot to function. We soon realised that solar radiation reflecting off the surrounding sand was to blame.”
It took several days until the team were able to produce water using solar energy and condensation – a process by which humidity in the air condenses at low temperature creating droplets against the metal plate harvester.
The liquid collected during the condensation can be used for agricultural purposes or be treated for drinking, because of its similarity to rainwater.
The SunGlacier project demonstrated that it is possible to harvest water from air using only solar energy – making SunGlacier probably the world’s first artificial water well to work entirely off-grid in such harsh conditions.
Images credit: Dezeen/SunGlacier