The discovery of water plumes on the surface of Saturn’s moon, Enceladus has renewed hope that life as we know it on earth might be sustainable elsewhere in our solar system itself. Water which we have always considered to be an abundant is rapidly becoming scarce, with water wars becoming a new reality. Scientists, researcher, corporates, foundations, governments are joining forces and resources to find sustainable means using renewable energy and clean technology to provide clean drinking water to many arid regions of the world. We look at some of these innovations which are stunningly simple, innovative and eco-friendly in parts.
Fishing for Water
In the Anti Atlas Mountain range in Morocco, giant nets ‘fish’ for water. Designed by the German Water Foundation, ‘Cloudfisher’ nets harness water from the fog that shrouds the mountain range. This sustainable innovation is part of the fog-harvesting project which is changing the life of women in arid regions whose main job is to fetch water. The giant nets here produce 1600 gallons of water a day. The next goal is to build bigger and better nets and save the billions of hours Africans spend in fetching water alone.
Yellowstone Park is one of America’s great tourist attractions that is also home to thousands of species of flora and fauna. It boasts the Old Faithful natural geyser and has a delicate ecosystem. To maintain this ecosystem, the Park authorities and Michelin Foundation have tied up to make thirsty concrete using old tyres, stones and a binding agent. This thirsty concrete, which can absorb up to 3000 gallons of water, per square foot per hour will replace 4160 feet of walkways throughout the Park and redistribute rain and snow back into the Yellowstone aquifer. A novel idea which can be replicated across cities and towns experiencing water scarcity.
Eole Water’s Wind Turbine
Give us wind, We’ll give water is the catchphrase of the French cleantech company Eole Water. A specially designed wind turbine with a built-in generator, condenses humidity into potable water. In addition to providing 100 litres of drinking water a day, the wind turbine also generates power. The system is eco-friendly, self-sustaining and is easy to maintain. Suitable for dry, arid regions of the world, the wind turbine can sustain winds up to 180 km/hr.
Machine Turns Urine Into Water
In the 2011 movie 127 Hours, the protagonist survives in a canyon by drinking his own urine. While many of us would balk at the thought of drinking our own urine, astronauts aboard space stations already consume water that has been recycled from their own urine. Scientists at the Univeristy of Ghent in Belgium have developed a solar-powered machine that can turn urine into drinkable water. The machine uses solar energy to convert urine into water and fertilizer and could aid communities in rural and developing countries with water scarcity issues by repurposing urine for drinking water as well as agricultural purposes.
Warka Water Towers
Our atmosphere contains moisture and the Warka Water Tower harnesses this atmospheric moisture in a sustainable manner to provide potable water in regions where water is a scarce resource like Dorze village in Ethiopia where the project has been piloted. Italian architect Arturo Vittori has designed the Warka Water Tower using mesh to trap moisture supported by a bamboo structure. The whole structure is lightweight and portable, and open source, so local communities can adjust the design to their environment and situation. Each tower can provide 100 litres of water everyday.
EcoloBlue Atmospheric Water Generator Station
EcoloBlue, a company based out of California has designed an Atmospheric Water Generator that can generate up to 400,000 litres of water a day from the humidity in the air. The water station can generate water from as little as 25% of relative humidity and temperature as low as 5 degrees celsius. The water station is powered by wind turbines and solar panels. However, EcoloBlue has also developed smaller water generators for use in homes and offices as well as to provide water in disaster situations.