What if we could, like mythical alchemists, change stone into gold; or like Superman, make coal into diamonds by squeezing it with our bare hands? In possession of such powers might we choose to create something that could make the world a better place? Element Four seems to have answered this not-so-hypothetical question with a resounding “yes” with the WaterMill, a water purification and filtration system that creates “fresh, potable water from an unlimited source: the air.”

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Unlike other water harvesting systems such as fog and dew collectors which rely on a delicate combination of surface area and atmospheric conditions, and similar large-scale systems like WatAir which have more practical concerns such as special permits and community approval, the WaterMill is a small, relatively simple home appliance that draws moisture from the outside air and condenses it into fresh potable water. The WaterMill promises to provide 3.2 gallons of drinking water a day under ideal conditions – enough for a family of six.

While the elegant design of the WaterMill is striking, its real breakthrough seems to be its efficiency. According to Element Four, the WaterMill operates “at a cost of approximately 11 cents per gallon (three cents per liter), the average operating cost of 35 cents a day is a fraction of that of bottled water, which averages around $4.00 per day for the same amount of water.” Not bad!

If water scarcity is the “most underestimated resource issue facing the world today,” as reported by the Earth Policy Institute, then every measure taken to mitigate the crisis is a welcome one. Look for residential units of the WaterMill to be available next year, with more flexible units for everything from crop irrigation to peace keeping and disaster relief available in the near future.

+ Element Four