Water out of Thin Air, part 1

It was years before I realized that you could already buy this product from several online vendors, a testimony to the infancy of “search”. Yet still I clung to my little drawing of a water harvesting system I re-invented after seeing Jean-Luc Picard make one on the Hugo Award winning episode of Star Trek, “The Inner Light.”

Jean-Luc’s appeared to be powered by nothing at all, except perhaps the heat of the sun and the cool of the breeze. You can do that when you’re trained at Star Fleet Academy which most of us were not. I have another plan to use earth cooling for energy transfer and get closer to a dream of no external power source, but first I must master the basics.

I want to harvest water from the air using easy to find stuff and very basic technology.

The components should be easy to find and the basic system pretty easy to bolt and twine together. Efficiently tuning the various piece parts will take learning some new skills – and I’m looking forward to that.

In my part of the bay area we have plenty of sun and it would seem that we have an abundance of moisture in the air, we just don’t always get enough rain. Even in the heat of the summer you can wake up to the view of a soft blanket of clouds over the Santa Cruz Mountains. I don’t know how it would impact the overall ecosystem if there were a lot of these taking moisture from the air, but with our close proximity to the ocean my first guess is that the hydrologic cycle would replenish and maintain the appropriate balance. That is a question for bigger brains.

What I do know is that Mother Nature already does this little trick every morning, but the water condenses in impractical locations like on cars and roofs. I want to water my garden.

Over the next several weekends I’m going to be scouring the garage and the neighborhood for material, hopefully no trips to Home Depot. Added bonus is that we have a bulk-trash pickup in a couple of weeks so the neighbors will probably be putting out some choice supplies.

I will need:

  • A large water storage container (already have it in the sideyard)
  • A dehumidifier
  • Solar panel set (I think I have one from the camper that will work)
  • DC to AC converter
  • Various tubes, valves and etc.

Will it produce enough water to make a difference? Can it be built cost-effectively? Will it even work at all?

I don’t know yet I haven’t built it, but stay tuned and see for yourself.

 

Read Water out of Thin Air, part 2


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Comments

  1. I would like more information about this homemade atmospheric water generator. Have you made improvements since the first version. How did it work. I live in the Philippines and if we could make these it would help so many people.

    • Hi John. I have not continued to work on it. We got done with the first basic setup, which was the dehumidifier with the solar panel. We were able to produce almost 1 gallon of water per day.

      I had several problems that I was going to explore. The first is that we sometimes have very low humidity during the summer, even though just over the hills from here is the ocean. The amount of water you can extract may be location dependent. The other problem was that I did not have a good way to control this humidifier, so basically it kept going to it’s lowest temperature, and would get a bunch of ice caked onto it and it would stop extracting water. These two problems are related, and what we need to solve both is either a basic automated control, or a setting that performs consistently even if it’s producing less water.

      the main goal for me was to get water for the garden. I’ve started approaching that in other ways, like experimenting with “Hugelkultur” which i posted an article about. some people have great success with this method, and I heard of one garden in an arid region that only had to be watered ONCE during the summer.

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  1. [...] Read, Water out of Thin Air, part 1 [...]

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  3. [...] This week we’ve got a post I’m really excited about! Brad from Highly Uncivilized is sharing a post about how to build an at-home atmospheric water generator. How cool is that?! This is Part 2 of his experiment. You can read about Part 1 here. [...]

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