With two to three billion people worldwide experiencing water shortages and dire projections for the future, innovative solutions are desperately needed. One technology that is increasingly drawing attention for its potential to alleviate water scarcity is Atmospheric Water Generation (AWG). Recent research from Texas State University has delved into the viability of AWG as a cost-effective method to produce potable water, revealing promising results.
AWG isn't a new concept. However, what piqued the researchers' interest was its affordability. The team analyzed AWG's production costs by utilizing a commercial system for a ten-day trial. The device, equipped with a fan, condenser coil, pump, and multiple stages of filters, was capable of extracting moisture from the air, filtering it, and collecting it for use. The system operated non-stop outdoors in a shaded, non-enclosed area during the summer, providing both hot and cold water options.
The trial results were insightful. While the system generated about 20% less water than originally predicted, the researchers found evidence of its cost-effectiveness. The AWG's production costs were compared to two other water sources: standard 12 oz bottles available in vending machines and water available for purchase in one-gallon containers at grocery stores. The comparison included the net present value of costs, including initial, consumables, and energy costs.
Interestingly, the AWG system's breakeven point was only 72 days compared to bottled water, while the breakeven point compared to gallons of water was roughly 3.5 years. However, it was noted that higher interest rates could push the breakeven point for gallons of water out even further.
Despite producing less water than anticipated over the ten-day trial, the researchers established that AWG systems running 24 hours a day were more cost-effective than bottled water after only a few months. Yet, more research is needed to better understand AWG performance in different temperatures and seasons. Nevertheless, they believe this is a great start to finding and implementing ways to produce clean, affordable water, and AWG has the potential to become a new source of fresh water for locations with the right conditions.
The study clearly demonstrates that AWG systems are not just a theoretical concept, but a viable solution to the water scarcity crisis. While the technology continues to evolve, the need for affordable, accessible, and environmentally friendly water solutions is pressing. AWG is undeniably an innovative approach that warrants further exploration and investment.