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UAE to make drinking water out of thin air
By Mary Villareal // Aug 10, 2021

The United Arab Emirates (UAE) plans to install water generators that can turn moisture in the air into water for public consumption. Powered by solar energy, these "hyper-dehumidifiers" can provide plenty of water to people, thanks to the humid UAE air.


The technology is going to be tested in October. About 20 of these dehumidifiers can produce 6,700 liters of fresh water every day if local conditions are at 78 degrees Fahrenheit and 60 percent humidity. If successful, the hyper-dehumidifiers will be rolled out in UAE's futuristic "sustainable city" in Masdar, which is being built next to the Abu Dhabi airport.

How does hyper-dehumidifier work?

Solar panels will power the generators' massive fans, which can suck moisture-packed air from its surrounding environment. The dehumidifier's pipes will be filled with this moisture-packed air, and will then be circulated with a liquid coolant that will help cool the air down until it reaches the "dew point" or when air condenses into liquid or water. Once this liquid forms, it is collected and purified for public consumption.

The dew point is the temperature that the air needs to be cooled to achieve a relative humidity (RH) of 100 percent. RH is the amount of moisture in the air compared to how much the air can "hold" at that temperature. At 100 percent relative humidity, the air can't hold all the moisture, resulting in dew, condensation or rain. At zero percent relative humidity, air is devoid of water vapor.

The project is being run by Aquovum, a U.S.-based water technologies firm. Experts say that the carbon-free technology of the hyper-humidifier will help reduce the UAE's reliance on desalinating seawater and expensive imports of bottled water.

"Almost shockingly, being that the UAE is one of the water-stressed areas in the world, it has adequate temperature and humidity to provide an infinite supply of water through dehumidification," said Robert Wood, Aquovum's chief technological officer. (Related: Weather control: Dubai generates rain to combat drought and heat wave.)

"At times there are periods of immense fog in Abu Dhabi and Dubai, and through its coastal region and weather patterns, the humidity ranges between 60-90 percent. Unclean water is a terrible problem and the worst part is that in theory, it's solvable, simply by capturing moisture in the air. This technology is going to be simple, sustainable and scalable."

If the test goes well, the water generators will also be installed at Khalifa University's Masdar Institute Solar Platform in Masdar City. A futuristic mecca for cleantech companies, the institute is set for completion by 2030 at the earliest.

Abdulla Balalaa, executive director for sustainable real estate at Masdar City, said that it is "already home to over 900 companies, dedicated to developing innovative technologies across the sectors of renewables, energy storage, water, artificial intelligence, health, space and mobility."

Companies are extracting water from air

Numerous companies are already extracting water from the air to help water-scarce communities, including SOURCE Global.

SOURCE Global's technology has a sustainable twist that powers its devices with built-in solar panels. Called hydro panels, these devices allow you to harvest water from air using solar energy and nothing else.

"No need for electricity, no need for a grid, no need for infrastructure -- it's perfectly self-sufficient," said Vahid Fotuhi, SOURCE Global's vice president for Europe, Middle East and Africa.

Cost issues aside, these trailblazing ventures for producing drinking water in desert nations create a model for the future based on a renewable source and in a sustainable way.

Emirati firm IBV, which is owned by Butti Bin Maktoum Bin Juma Al Maktoum, a member of Dubai's royal family, already pledged to buy water from SOURCE Global. "The bottling plant is run on solar, the bottles we use are recyclable and the caps are sustainable," said Samiullah Khan, general manager at IBV.

Follow CleanWater.news for more news related to clean water.

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