More than 748 millionen people in the world don’t have access to clean drinking water. Every day, almost 1,000 children die from the consequences.
The machines built by Israeli company WaterGen are to change this by filtering, according to the company, more than 3,000 litres of drinking water daily from the air. WaterGen could solve the problem of drinking-water shortages in many parts of the world.
For western civilisation, excessive, exorbitant and wasteful consumption of clean drinking water has become a given. In the past 100 years, the daily water consumption per person has risen from 20 litres to 140 litres. Up to 120 litres can be used up by taking a bath, 40 by having a shower, 30 doing laundry, 13 to wash your hands regularly, 12 doing the dishes, and the same amout by watering plants around the house or in the garden. But actually, every healthy person only needs 2.4 litres of drinking water a day. The gap between natural necessity and exorbitant consumption is absurd.
In other parts of the world the situation is devastating. According to UNICEF, 748 million people in the world don’t have access to clean drinking water, 90% of them live in Asia and sub-Saharan Africa. Especially for children in poor rural areas dirty water full of bacteria becomes life-threatening: Every year about 361,000 children under five die of diarrhoeal diseases, caused by contaminated drinking water, lack of toilets and poor hygiene.
According to a report by the United Nations, the fight for drinking water will increase over the next decades. In their report, the UN expect a disastrous increase of the need of drinking water; until 2050 the demand will increase about 55%.
“The planet has never been this thirsty”, the report says. Further reasons, apart from rapid population growth, are the development of agriculture, increasing industrialisation and the construction of new thermic generation plants.
If reforms fail to appear, a shortage that could cost countless human lives impends. Especially countries with a hot and dry climate would be hit which would result in migration all around the planet.
Israeli company WaterGen wants to take action now. It’s common knowledge that air, under natural circumstances, contains water in gas form. WaterGen’s engineers have developed a machine that takes advantage of this fact and collects clean drinking water from humidity in the air. By their own account, up to 825 gallons or 3,122 litres of water can be extracted this way.
The machine, that weighs 2,900 kilos, looks like an air-conditioning unit. On the top side, it has a lamellar grid through which the air is sucked in. Inside, a cooling system makes the humidity condense. “After that, the water goes through a filter system which eliminates possible chemical or microbiological pollution”, Water-Gen-director Arye Kohavi told CNN. “The clean water is then stored in an internal water tank.”
This kind of water production means: the hotter and the more humid the surroundings, the bigger the production. The machine is thus predestined to be used in countries that are particularly threatened by water-shortages. In order to work the machine only needs power supply and 350 Wh per litre.
Water-Gen is currently testing its system in Shanghai, Mumbai, and Mexiko City. The company wants to place the machine on the market within the next few months.
So far, Water-Gen has produced especially for the Israeli army. Now the company puts their focus on the civil populations’ needs. “We strongly believe that it’s possible to provide every country with water”, Kohavi asserts.