A water-from-air machine at Arab Water Forum 2021 in Dubai Image Credit: Angel Tesorero/Gulf News

Dubai: Harvesting water out of thin air is no longer new science. Many local and international companies have introduced this novel way of producing pure drinking water from the atmosphere. The question is about public acceptance and how cost-effective the technology is.

At the ongoing ‘5th Arab Water Forum’ (AWF5), which opened in Dubai on Tuesday, five companies are showcasing their water-from-air machines – ranging from small units designed for in-home use that can produce 12 litres of water per day to industrial contraptions that can provide thousands of litres of water daily – enough to support the requirements of a regular hotel.

All of them have the objective of enabling the transition from energy-intensive water production to technology-driven solution. They all said “the amount of water vapour in the atmosphere is vast and the more humidity in the air, the more water that can be produced.”

One of the companies at AWF5 is Terrafic Energy. Its CEO Nathalie Poirier told Gulf News that “generating water from air is not only an alternate solution to produce potable water but will also solve water scarcity and reduce plastic pollution and water desalination”.

Extracting moisture from air

Nathalie Poirier

She added: “Producing water from air is simple science. Earth’s atmosphere contains 37.5 quadrillion gallons of water vapour. We can tap this unlimited source of water using the principle of condensation to extract moisture from the air and convert it into pure drinking water.”

The technology is called Atmospheric Water Generation (AWG) and, according to Poirier, the procedure involves first pulling air through an electrostatic-antimicrobial filter to remove air borne particles. Then a condensation unit receives the clean humid airflow and condenses water vapour into liquid. As the machine collects the water, it drops into a collection tank where it is ‘ozonated’ to keep the water pure and fresh.

Poirier showcased their ‘Chameleon 8’, about the size of a regular water dispenser, that can produce 32 litres of water daily. It can store up to 26 litres of water and is best to work with at an ambient temperature of over 23C and humidity level at over 60 per cent.

Cost-effective alternative?

Poirier said the water produced from air is “pure as it does not contain any contaminates while being environmentally-friendly and cost effective in the long run”.

The cost of a Chameleon 8 is Dh16,100. Say it can produce 32 litres of water daily and the average cost of one litre of water is Dh1, the monetary value is Dh960 per month or Dh11,520 for one year. Throw in the other costs like filters - air filter, granulated carbon filtration, mineraliser - which come around Dh400, plus the electricity (the unit runs on 765 watts) and factor all the expenses, the investment to buy a single unit can then be recovered in 1.5 years, Poirier calculated.

“But the more important thing is you eliminate plastic water bottles as you can produce your own water and there is no need for you to run to the grocery to buy water”.