Making Drinking Water From Thin Air (Literally)

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
***
Like News like this? Sign up for FREE daily updates:

***

Scott Cooney, Principal of GreenBusinessOwner.com and author of Build a Green Small Business: Profitable Ways to Become an Ecopreneur (McGraw-Hill, November 2008), is also a serial ecopreneur who has started and grown several green businesses and consulted several other green startups. He co-founded the ReDirect Guide, a green business directory, in Salt Lake City, UT. He greened his home in Salt Lake City, including xeriscaping, an organic orchard, extra natural fiber insulation, a 1.8kW solar PV array, on-demand hot water, energy star appliances, and natural paints. He is a vegetarian, an avid cyclist, ultimate frisbee player, and surfer, and currently lives in the sunny Mission district of San Francisco. Scott is working on his second book, a look at microeconomics in the green sector.In June 2010, Scott launched GreenBusinessOwner.com, a sustainability consulting firm dedicated to providing solutions to common business problems by leveraging the power of the triple bottom line. Focused exclusively on small business, GBO's mission is to facilitate the creation and success of small, green businesses.