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Making Drinking Water From Thin Air (Literally)

Scott Cooney | Wednesday September 16th, 2009 | 55 Comments

dew-pointe-deviceFor an average of 60 cents per gallon, the DewPointe DH9 Atmospheric Water Purification System extracts water vapor from the air and converts it to pure drinking water. The system uses similar technology as some home dehumidifiers to pull the moisture from the air.

By pulling moisture out of the atmosphere, the DH9 is said to eliminate virtually all contaminants that might otherwise occur in groundwater.  The device then further purifies the water to eliminate 99.99% of contaminants.  There’s an electrostatic air filter to remove small airborne particles like pollen and dust, a germicidal uV light that destroys bacteria and other microorganisms, a coconut hull filter that eliminates heavy metals, chlorine residuals and mineral salts, and a reverse osmosis (RO) filter to remove any remaining pathogens or fine particles.  Unlike other RO filters, where the wastewater is then flushed (so that the user drinks one purified gallon for each six to ten that are wasted), the DH9’s revolutionary RO filter reprocesses it so that no water is lost.  A gravity-fed storage tank holds 6.5 gallons that would be accessible even in the event of a power outage.

Too good to be true?

Like a normal water cooler, the DH9 stands about 4 feet high and would replace conventional water coolers in offices and homes.  However, the ability to filter water directly from air could make this technology a game changer in situations where water is scarce.  It can also produce hot water and has a touch-screen display that tells you when the filters need replacing.  A micro-computer monitors all working parts and has energy-saving sensors and child-proof hot water locks.

Still, there are drawbacks to the DH9 that limit its applications. The first is cost.  For a retail price of roughly $1,600, the DH9 is much more expensive than a traditional bottleless water cooler, which range from $300 to $600 depending on features but require a municipal water supply (i.e., they are not able to purify non-potable water).  So like solar panels, which for a long time were cost effective only where public utility lines were not feasible, the DH9 may have an advantage in rural areas, developing countries, and other areas where many basic services are not available.

From a sustainability perspective, the DH9 would appear to be a breakthrough technology with the potential to ease drinking water issues around the world.  The filters are “zero waste”, as is the system’s water manufacturing process.  If the technology is able to be replicated at scale, it could potentially help irrigation in drought affected areas.  However, the DH9 uses electricity at a rate of 80 W while sitting, and 500 W while actively manufacturing water.

boywaterThe DH9 is also somewhat limited by atmospheric humidity.  In dry desert climates where the relative humidity may hover in the 30% range, the DH9 can produce 10 L (2.5 gal) of pure water every day, whereas in more humid environments, it is capable of almost three times as much.

Where surface water and groundwater are polluted, scarce, or inaccessible, the DH9’s technology presents a viable solution to providing drinking water.  If the technology can be done to scale, it may represent a powerful force for a planet that faces clean water shortages amid growing populations and demand.

Scott Cooney is the principal of GreenBusinessOwner.com, a membership based website devoted to facilitating the creation and success of Triple Bottom Line businesses, the author of Build a Green Small Business:  Profitable Ways to Become an Ecopreneur (McGraw-Hill), and hopes that someday the green economy will simply be referred to as….the economy.

Twitter:  ScottCooney
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▼▼▼      55 Comments     ▼▼▼

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  • heh

    Very cool, great idea. I’d love one of these so I wouldn’t have to drink chemicalized water.

    • Taylor

      Chemicalized? Really?

      • BDan

        Didn’t you know that fluoridation is a communist plot to pollute our precious bodily fluids?

  • Nick Aster

    This is brilliant stuff – however, I’m a little doubtful about the reality of applications in the developing world. The cost is just too high. The lifestraw seems like a much more sensible approach to that problem, combined with simple filtration systems on existing water streams.

    Also, if it’s 1/3 as effective in deserts (where it’s really needed) then it only gets more expensive.

  • Intrigued Isaac

    10L of water a day for 12KwH isn’t great. Even standard desalination plants give you about 2000L for that.

    Okay you get the transport for free but water flows. So a greener solution would seem to be an desalination plant, aqueducts and using the power saving to pump the water to it’s destination. (There is enough saving to pump 10L 1.2Km in the air.)

    More importantly the moisture in the air is used by many plants, and as it is removed it will increase surface evaporation.

    Okay so this is not going to be a problem for the odd water cooler but if this was scaled up you would have a serious environmental effect.

  • Mr. Whiskers

    Ok its a nice design but My step father just installed a RO system that takes everything out of the water for half the price. I dont see how this system is useful where water is avalible. As for where water isnt avalible i have spoted a small problem. Number one is cost. Number two is power. If these people cant get clean water then chances are they dont have power. I dont mean to knock it but i just dont see a good application for it.

  • Seth

    I’m wondering what he effects of pulling so much water out of the air will be.

    • Rom

      In reference to a few of the comments:
      1. What a waste of money by over thinking a problem. This is too expensive by far. The filtration system will need to be replaced as well. Bah. Inflatable water evaporation balloons with a straw sized filter can do almost as well. You can even throw in a small solar powered UV light to boot.

      2. Basement buckets from a dehumidifier can be used to water plants, flush the toilet… get creative just watch the acidity of the soil using pure water.

      3. Absolutely pure water is not good to drink. The lack of minerals in the water causes it to remove a lot of minerals from your body like calcium and magnesium and makes you vitamin and mineral deficient. I don’t see a mineral supplement stage in the diagram.. That worries me.

  • http://www.facebook.com/eric.raymundo1 Eric Raymundo

    this is a cool green technology. great stuff….scott

  • http://www.christopherhaase.com/blog Christopher Haase

    This is a dehumidifier with a filter. The army and others have used this tech for decades.

    However, there are models that utilize solar power to produce power and are beneficial … otherwise all other sources of energy require more water during energy creation than return from device. Making no ‘net water gain’ just a loss.

    A little like corn ethanol for energy ;-)

  • ruoli

    Woo! Moisture farms here we come

  • Kirsten Corsaro

    Very interesting, especially if it could be made more affordable for the developing world. I wonder if there would be any overall effects on the atmosphere if a lot of these were in use (less rainfall?).

  • Metqa

    I have two of those Damp Rid buckets in my house cause my landlord is too much of a louse to care that my house is full of environmental moisture contributing to an ongoing mold problem. These buckets are full of water now,and the only option I have is to toss them. How cool would it be to have a machine to not only draw the water out of the air, starving the mold in the walls, and at the same time giving me purified water as good as the store bought stuff!! I’d like it!!!

    • Mal

      Why not just use a dehumidifier and a Brita filter? instead of spending whatever this thing would cost?

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  • Wes

    Amazing, my only concern is, wouldn’t this take most of the moisture out of the air, leaving the room dry and uncomfortable?

    • Trolol

      That’s OK, just hook up the line out to a humidifier :P

  • FR

    Add solar panels for power generation and take it completely of the grid…

    • z_kenny

      Solar Power!
      This is the comment I was looking for.

      The amount of electrical power needed to run one of these doesn’t make it practical, but if it could work off of solar power then this would indeed be very usefull in developing nations.

  • Idiots

    Buy a dehumidifier and it’ll do most of the work for a whole lot less.

    • Dan

      I've been using this “Dumb Idea” for over five years for my primary drinking water. All I can say is don”t knock it till you try it.
      My water has 7ppm and taste like water should. I havent spent a penny on bottled water, Plus atmospheric water is much better tasting. Every day I fill glass bottles to take with me and drink thru-out the day.
      NO PLASTIC BOTTLES to end up in the ocean.
      This is a very green way to have the plants purest water. And if you hook it up to a solar panel, much of it could be free.

  • calico

    This is such a dumb idea. Go to Home Depot and buy a basement dehumidifer — which does the exact same thing, pulling H2O out of the air. Run it through a filter and drink it.

    The power these units use is far in excess of the cost of other water sources. It might be useful in rural Africa where there are no wells, but in places that rural, there are also no reliable electrical outlets either.

    • Zach

      I have been using dehumidifier for years, and I want that multi-stage filtering process before I drink that water, that stuff is pretty nasty if used in the basement, and the basement is really the only place where there is enough moisture in the air to meet the needs of most people. I don’t think one can just GO OUT and buy a filter to run it through, there is still the matter of taste…

  • tommy

    I wonder if it works in Arizona around June.

    • Zach

      Thats funny, if in Arizona those machines could be animated like in the cartoon’s it would huff and puff until it’s face turned red with an Ice pack on the head, until finally it squeezes out one drop of water like it just had a baby…

  • Leon Dias

    Oh well .. true its very expensive, but consider this. Everything was expensive before theywere mass produced. So why not for this technology? Everything needs to be developed.

    Think computers .. :)

  • Scott Cooney

    Obviously the cost is prohibitive for many applications, but the opportunity for this technology to replace delivered bottled water presents a tremendous opportunity for many eco-entrepreneurs, and will greatly reduce the carbon footprint of companies that 1) filter the water, 2) put it in giant plastic jugs, and 3) transport those jugs to clients homes and offices. Once the efficiency comes around, both in terms of money and energy, this technology, mass-produced, can greatly alter the game in terms of drinking water.

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  • Caroline

    Won’t people be reluctant to drink what they breathed ?

    Caroline
    Find Green Eco-Friendly Products Here

    • Zach

      I don’t know, you aren’t reluctant about tap water and there is another MORE involved bodily function that goes into that?

  • Recording Studios Leeds

    This is amazing for the west, but to be intergrated into developing countries? I dont think they have the facilities to be able to cope with the amount of energy that this machine would need. But in the future it could be a very plausable thing for dry and water scarce climates.

  • William J. Broderick

    My basement dehumidifier waters my plants. Cost about $40. Seems the same but with a filter for drinking water. Limitation of use is electricity requirement.

  • water which

    There is no doubt that atmospheric water’s time is now. I own one and it makes so much water we give away a gallon or two. The DewPointe has a mineral infuser in it so it has the proper pH (7.2-7.4) Everyone who has seen this machine and tastes the water can hardly believe it, they love it! Im no water snob, but this water is the best i’ve ever tasted. Loved it so much I became Oregon’s DewPointe dealer. check out http://www.allaboutgreenstuff.com to learn more.

  • peter springer

    you could do the same thing with a pit dug into the ground, some plant material and plastic sheet.

    a $100 air conditioner pulls water out of the air as does a dehumidifier. spend money on desalination or water filters.

  • MJR

    Excellent, can be used in African and Subsaharan countries where electricity is provided but no clean drinking water. Lot os places in SouthEast Asia have eletricity but no clean water.

    UN might provide funding.

  • Zach

    Great idea, but one thing that happens in my apartment with my De-humidifier is that it sucks every drop of moisture from the air, and my de-humidifier doesn’t sound nearly as efficient OR capable of removing water from the air. This purifier can store “gallons” of water, where my unit may store ONE GALLON.

    The AIR in my Den becomes SO DRY that even my skin feels dried out and I reach for the lotion after approximately one quart of water is removed from the house, making the reason for having a de-humidifier only minimally more uncomfortable than the described “side effect” of TOO LITTLE moisture in the air, creating an untenable situation for People with Asthma OR other breathing/ Lung deficits.

    I think for $1600.00 people need to understand that your indoor environment will be subjected to an extremely powerful de-humidifier essentially, this is especially easy to understand when compared to a simple de-humidifier that will work 24 hours to pull from a half gallon to one gallon of moisture from the AIR while the DewPointe DH9 Atmospheric Water Purification System can pull 2.5 gallons of water from the air in that same 24 span.

    Wait and see.

  • http://www.waterfilterreviewer.com WaterFilterReview

    It’s always a question of cost vs added value. For $1600.00 I think it’s a bit steep.

    Check out http://www.ted.com/talks/michael_pritchard_invents_a_water_filter.html

  • http://DiscussIT.org Bruce McHenry

    This is truly revolutionary iff one has unlimited free power and no water, not even sewage. Otherwise, it is the most inefficient, expensive and environmentally unfriendly idea I can recall. What exactly are the writers for this phoney green site trained in? Obviously, they can copy press kit materials. Do they have a clue about how to analyze and think? There is not much sign of that here.

  • cyndi lee

    This has to be the most anti-environmental invention since the Hummer. A 500W power consumption to obtain a few liters of water a day?!?

    This would use billions and billions times as much energy as tap water. I didnt think someone could create a more wasteful water delivery system than putting the stuff in throwaway plastic bottles and trucking it to destinations, but this machine would actually use even more energy than that.

    • Matt

      Agreed

    • anotherpatel

      Well said…I could not agree more.

    • Sergio

      solar panels!! Use that. If the companies find a way to hook up a solar panel to that dispenser it’ll be more efficient and have no effect on ur electric bills. Think about it.

  • waterwhich

    I've owned an Atmospheric Water Generator now for about a year and i can tell you all in complete honesty, i have not noticed any escalation in my monthly electric bills at all when compared to last years electricity usage. You can have the best kitchen filter set up in the world but you are still filtering already polluted/treated ground water. I am drinking water that has NEVER been on the ground and therefore is purer than any other water source. I might add that my water is safe from potential terrorism, is yours? Instead of negating so much about an AWG, we need to start thinking “outside the box”. Did you know the EPA has just released a statement that approx 95% of all tap water municipalities are in violation of exceeding allowable limits for contaminates? This tells me that we need to avoid drinking tap water. Bottled water
    is no better since the majority of bottled water is just tap water anyway and the use of plastic bottles has created a devastating impact on our environment, not to mention the petroleum chemicals that leach from the bottles. ( google youtube “tapped trailer”) Regarding the pH of AWG water, I don't know about other manufacturers, but the “DewPointe” brand that I own has a natural mineral infuser that makes water with a pH of 6.5-7.5+ which is alkalinic and good for the body.
    I am sure an AWG will become thee next appliance everyone will have and depend on, it only makes sense. Where else can you find a safer, purer water source? Too expensive? The company that makes “DewPointe” offers an affordable leasing program. see allaboutgreenstuff.com for complete info on the “DewPointe” AWG. Cheers!

  • anotherpatel

    Although this is an amazing technology, I don't think this will be a viable solution for water conservation, particularly in the US. Especially when, considering all of the other easier, more cost effective things that can be done to save water. That being said, I think these efforts should be applauded as they will lead to other great ideas that will be able to have an immediate impact on the way we think about and use water.

    Amit
    http://www.GreenZu.com

  • http://www.greenzu.com Julie

    Although this is an amazing technology, I don't think this will be a viable solution for water conservation, particularly in the US. Especially when, considering all of the other easier, more cost effective things that can be done to save water. That being said, I think these efforts should be applauded as they will lead to other great ideas that will be able to have an immediate impact on the way we think about and use water.

    Amit
    http://www.GreenZu.com

  • http://www.greenzu.com Julie

    Well said…I could not agree more.

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  • http://sandybali.com/ Sandybali

    How efficient the system can be ? Compared to the electricity consumption ?

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  • Mahmoud Sulyman

    Dear All,
    I would like to ask any possible help to have any available papers about the differentmethods for water production from air ( i ask about the theoretical methods, principles, defintions, etc…),
    so please any one has any documents could help me to finalize the literutre view about water from air, i would be thankful to send it to me ASAP,
    The best
    Mahmoud

  • Mahmoud Sulyman

    this is my email
    mahmoud.sulyman@yahoo.com

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  • Jose Luis Guzman

    check out “the drought master” they claim it cost $0.04 per gallon its made by a man from Texas

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  • Scott Ogle

    I agree this product is too high. There is one point that is not mentioned. If you are already using a dehumidifier. In that case you are using the electric already but wasting the water output.

  • mifta

    i want to make it myself, can you explain to me hoe to make it?
    it just for get knowledge deepper, because i should try it on the school.

  • etexfisherman48

    These machines are useful in the event of something like our grids coming under attack and/or destroyed. Everything is operated by computer these days so even water might be affected getting to you. At least, with one of these if you get one that provides for a PH of at least 7.4 you will have safe healthy drinking water. That is in my opinion critical. Other than that there is as many suggest cheaper ways to produce safe drinking water with filters. There are many of these machines out there but so far I have found very few that provides for a PH of 7.4 or better.