Gallery: The WaterMill Produces Fresh Drinking Water out of Thin Air

 
picture via Element Four

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.”

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

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11 Comments

  1. caffeinechic October 20, 2008 at 3:59 pm

    By pulling the available moisture out of the local environment, wouldn\\\’t this exacerbate drought conditions?

  2. Snark October 19, 2008 at 7:07 pm

    How unfathomably pointless. A few rain barrels or a water cistern will provide more water, cheaper, than this useless gadget ever will – as will the water main that runs into your house. And where water is most needed – arid regions – it’d produce what, a couple of cups of water a day?

  3. laurasevans October 18, 2008 at 2:59 pm

    If I understand the concept correctly, this device collects water from the air via a distillation process. it then passes the H20 through a filtration system. If that is true, then the water may not be optimal for drinking purposes. The body requires minerals to maintain its health. Distilled water is often not recommended for general consumption, because it may leach minerals out of the body as it passes through the digestive tract. Many epidemiological studies have studied the effects of large populations subsisting on bottled water. The studies portray a clear trend, whereas the rate of disease increased among populations that drank purified, bottled water.

  4. air2water October 17, 2008 at 5:18 pm

    This article is about something available NEXT YEAR and in the NEAR FUTURE?

    Consider that Air2Water.org has a product that is available TODAY!

    Not just in theory, we have a product you can get today that provides 5-13 gallons of water per day depending on relative humidity, at 11.5 cents per gallon in Seattle (which has optimal conditions, at their kWh costs, which vary state to state).

    While it says the product is more ‘robust’ than hacked dehumidifier systems like Aquamaker and Air2Water, I wonder what substantiates this claim. Consider that the product is not yet available, like the Air2Water products that are out there in the world, operating.

    Air2Water water generating machines aren’t ‘hacked’ dehumidifiers they provide unparallelled quality, proven sterilization techniques and advanced filtration technology, that allow Air2Water systems to comply with international standards and certification requirements today.

    We also make the Triton which produces upwards of 4000 gallons of water per day.

    We have established our non-profit, The Water the World Foundation, to donate these large scale machines to people that need it the most.

    Please direct inquiries to hollis@air2water.org (also use our promotion code AW1185 for a discount.)

  5. christimagi October 16, 2008 at 9:41 pm

    Reminds me of those old airconditioners that are always dripping water :)

  6. filbruce October 16, 2008 at 9:29 pm

    isnt this what Luke Skywalker did on tatouine?

  7. ec October 16, 2008 at 6:16 pm

    Came across something similar a while back

    http://peswiki.com/index.php/Directory:Max_Whisson's_Gust_Water_Trap_Apparatus

    Wind turbines power a refrigeration system that produces a cold surface on which moisture in the air condenses and is collected. Works on a larger scale, and will work in dry and arid climate because there is always moisture content in air however little.

    very applicable in australia where droughts are becoming more of a problem, especially for inland remote farms & communities.

  8. Kenneth October 16, 2008 at 3:59 pm

    Willie Nelson has been promoting his own air-to-water maker/purifier here in Austin, Texas: http://www.willienelsonswaterfromair.com/
    It iwll work in any climate and it purifies the water to higher standards than the local tap water. Awesome.

  9. Jean-Marc Skopek October 16, 2008 at 11:28 am

    Isn’t this just a dehumidifier repackaged with a snazzy marketing pitch?

  10. Brian Lang October 16, 2008 at 11:24 am

    I would assume that this would not work well in dry climates. And if you install it in your kitchen, will the water pick up food odors? I would wait for v2.0…to see what the reviews say.

  11. lateefx October 16, 2008 at 11:18 am

    This is amazing – thanks for the posting – I wonder what it’s application could be in the developing world.

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