Humanity has made a real mess of life on Earth, but people like Ap Verheggen are keeping us in the game. Verheggen designs creative ways of sourcing water where it doesn't come readily, particularly in blistering hot places with untapped humidity. WaterCube is his latest invention. The 20-inch cube of stainless steel is embedded with solar cells that power a refrigeration device, which in turn cools off an inverted cone to create condensation. Gravity then drips accumulated condensate into a glass to provide fresh drinking water. You can see a video of this process after the jump.
Verheggen tells Inhabitat that the biggest challenge they faced when designing the WaterCube was to cool down the cone to just above freezing point without using a huge amount of energy. After several trials, he and his team managed to achieve that goal with 25 Watts of energy. The small solar panels on the top and sides of the cube produce 40 Watts, which allows them to store excess energy in batteries for less sunny conditions.
How much water is produced really depends on climate conditions, according to Verheggen. The higher the temperatures, the more water the device will produce.
“With my team we are doing research to find more solutions for cooling down surfaces in its most efficient way, off-grid, powered by solar, easy to scale up, and cheap to produce,” he said. “It’s my vision that many people can enjoy their own source of drinking water in the future, especially in drought-hit areas. Next to this device, we are developing a system that doesn’t have moving parts, perfectly to use for open agriculture. Just stick them in the ground and they make water.”
With one in 10 people lacking access to safe drinking water, according to Water.org, Verheggen’s vision is more relevant now than ever. WaterCube was unveiled 23 June, 2016 during the OECD Water Governance Initiative at The Hague.