World Economic Forum Emerging Technologies 2017: Clean Water from Air
Each year, the World Economic Forum publishes a diverse range of breakthrough technologies, chosen for their potential to improve lives, transform industries and safeguard the planet. These technologies were also chosen for their level of maturity that would enable widespread take-up in the coming 3-5 years. The technologies were selected by the World Economic Forum’s Expert Network and Global Future Councils in collaboration with Scientific American and its Board of Advisors’ (from World Economic Forum, weforum.org, June 26, 2017).
Number two on the list is harvesting clean water from air. ‘According to the World Health Organization, 1 in 10 people worldwide lack access to clean water, and 88% of all disease in the developing world has been estimated to be caused by unsafe drinking water….not surprisingly, a 2009 study found that GDP growth correlated strongly with access to clean water’ (Fortune, Apr 16, 2017).
The World Economic Forum states that the ability to extract clean water from air is not new, however existing techniques require high moisture levels and a lot of electricity. This is changing. Two different technologies may be able to provide clean drinking water to populations that lack access, according to the Scientific American.
The first technology uses a class of porous crystals that are able to pull moisture from the air and feeds the resulting water into a collector, using low grade heat from natural sunlight.
The second technology uses an off-grid solar system to provide energy that both drives air through a proprietary water-absorbing material and powers condensation of the extracted moisture into fluid.