Atmospheric water generation, commonly referred to by just the abbreviation AWG, has shown immense promise as a solution to the global water crisis. The idea behind AWG is that, since there is always some level of humidity in the air, why not take that ambient moisture and turn it into drinkable water?
Although this idea seems simple enough in theory, turning air into clean drinking water in practice can come with its challenges. In this blog, we dive into how AWGs work and how TUAFI scales this millennia-old technology into an agent that can have a true, indelible impact on the mounting global water crisis.
Humankind has innovated ways to extract water from the air for millennia. In just the last few decades, however, this old practice has picked up some impressive new tricks. Some of the most creative minds in water science have designed AWG machines such as trucks that can generate water in a moment’s notice, water coolers that don’t require those bulky, unwieldy plastic jugs, and turbines that can produce water around the clock. In other words, the potential for scalability and mobility has increased from the immobile collection wells of ancient times.
To understand how AWG works, it’s helpful to take a look around your house. In dehumidifiers, refrigerators, and air conditioners, a smaller version of the basic processes behind AWG occurs to some extent. That’s because AWG, at its core, is just condensing air and extracting water from it. In fact, the water that drips from your air conditioner as it runs at full blast on a hot summer day is the result of AWG — and many engineers have figured out ways to capture this water for other use.
The core function of an atmospheric water generator is to bring down air temperature to below its dew point, whereas air conditioners are designed simply to cool air to room temperature. Once the air’s temperature is lowered below its dew point, the air becomes saturated with water vapor. More water forms as this warmer air cools further below this temperature.
In some cases, a significant difference in temperature between the air and the space in which AWG will take place drives the process. In other cases, thermoelectric processes rapidly decrease air temperature, replicating the functions of modern-day refrigerants without employing energy-intensive compression processes (or leaking harmful refrigerant byproducts into the environment).
Some modern-day AWG devices lower air temperature for more purposes than just quickly reaching the dew point. Even as air temperatures are lowered further and further past the dew point, not all the gases in the air will condense. These colder gases can then be preserved and applied back into the process to hasten the cooling process, increasing the volume of water that AWG can produce in a given timespan.
The many AWG machines invented in the past 20 years rely on innovative methods for producing more water per unit of air taken in, but in some cases, machines can hamper the AWG process.
Although the science underlying AWG includes some of the most basic concepts behind the three basic states of matter, most current methods of achieving AWG are flawed. Fog catchers, which apply the concepts behind AWG in fog-heavy areas, can only make small quantities of water in any one timespan, no matter how much fog they trap. AWG has also been applied to machines designed specifically for generating water in areas impacted by the global water crisis, but these machines often struggle to properly pull water from these low-humidity environments.
Atmospheric humidity levels are perhaps the biggest drivers of AWG efficiency. Many deserts around the world hover at 25 percent humidity, but AWG processes struggle to work if the humidity in the surrounding air dips below 35 percent humidity. Percentages need to be much higher to support ideal water production through AWG, so many in-home AWG machines can’t keep up — most homes don’t even exceed 15 percent humidity.
Most AWG machines also don’t filter the air they use. Although the goal of AWG is the creation of pure water, contaminants in the air can thus remain in the water that AWG machines produce. Even processes that don’t use the harmful substances found in refrigerants can introduce unwanted materials into AWG-generated water, since AWG machines often prioritize water production without considering air purification.
Despite some of these major flaws, AWGs can have a tremendous impact on larger communities — with some modifications. Controlling humidity, for one, is absolutely necessary to maximize the promise of this equipment. That’s why, at TUAFI, we’ve developed concept plans for an AWG factory that operates well at all times, no matter the weather.
In our AWG factory, all AWG processes occur indoors rather than simply drawing air from the outdoors. By bringing the process inside, we can stabilize and maintain humidity and temperature at optimal levels for water production. At these levels, our factory can predictably produce 20,000 bottles of clean water every day.
In our highly controlled settings, we can ensure that all the water we generate is free of harmful contaminants. We use state-of-the-air filters at every stage of the process to ensure that none of the unwanted materials that can find their ways into other AWG-generated water make their way into our water. We even have the infrastructure necessary to place essential nutrients and minerals back into our water to meet regional government regulations.
The factory allows for the production and distribution of clean water on an unprecedented scale. That’s why we’re using Fundable to pull together the resources needed to turn our idea for an AWG factory into a reality. Click here to learn more about our vision and how you can help bring it to life.