Wind turbine to harvest energy and water from desert air
April 18, 2012
We've all seen ice cold glasses and bottles dripping with condensation after cooling water vapor in the air, and though grabbing water out of thin air is not new, it took French inventor and Eolewater founder Marc Parent's umpteenth emptying of his air conditioner's condensate to envision harvesting atmospheric moisture on a commercial scale using wind turbines. After years of designs and prototypes, his proof-of-concept device, essentially a wind-powered refrigeration/condensation/filtration unit, was put in operation in the dry desert air of Abu Dhabi last October where it's been reliably extracting 130-200 gal (approx. 500-800L) of clean, fresh water a day ever since.
"Access to drinking water is a condition for life and cannot be considered a luxury reserved to developed countries," Parent said. "Humanity cannot ignore the pain of those deprived of water access and has to find new solutions." The turbine units are not designed solely for desert-use. Being self-contained makes them suitable for any isolated areas that lack the infrastructure for water and/or electricity distribution, including islands, disaster areas, etc.
Housed in a 19.7 ft x 6.5 ft (6 m x 2 m) nacelle, Eolewater's fifth generation WMS1000 water condenser system sits atop a 78 ft (24m) mast and is powered by a 30 kW wind turbine (minimum 15 mph (24 kph) wind speed required) with a 42 ft (13 m) diameter rotor. Since our atmosphere contains a reasonable amount of water (even the Sahara desert has an average relative humidity of around 25%), it's simply a matter of using the wind to generate electricity for the on-board cooling units to chill the air until its moisture condenses out.
Once the water is collected, it is filtered and sent to stainless steel tanks for storage - simple as that. Apparently, the units are so durably built that, with routine maintenance, it's estimated they'll last up to 30 years. In areas where sun abounds but the winds are unreliable, Eole has also designed the WMS-30kW Solar Panel to drive the condensation/filtration equipment. For the millions living in or adjacent to deserts and drought-prone areas around the world, that's welcome news, indeed.