While diplomacy is the chief tool in diffusing conflict and providing relief for regions struck with water crises, technology continues to try and tackle the problem at its source. Creating more freshwater supplies, and conserving more of what we already have, is the life-preserving work of innovators around the world.
Almost every month, we have new and remarkable water innovations to share. This month is no different. The following are just a handful of the latest technological advances and breakthroughs in this most critical of global struggles.
Atmospheric water generation (AWG) hydropanels: The air holds six times as much water as the world’s rivers. Arizona-based company Source is building up a growing list of hydropanel deployments that use AWG to create drinking water from thin air. The solution uses fans to draw in air. Once inside the device, the water vapour is converted into liquid, filtered and then mineralised. The panels are entirely powered by sunlight, and are flexible enough to be deployed in most terrain types, even in areas of low humidity that are entirely off-grid. Source has recently deployed hydropanels in Bahía Hondita, a remote Colombian community, sustainably supplying 500 people with clean drinking water. The company’s sights are now set on drought-stricken California.
Tsunami Products ups its water generation rates: Another AWG breakthrough, Washington-based Tsunami Products has unveiled its new design for a forced condenser-type AWG system that is capable of producing between 900 and 8,600 litres of water a day. At a time when scalability is almost as important as sustainability, the ability to ramp up production rates of clean water is essential.
‘Desolination’, Horizon 2020 Project couples solar power and desalination: Progress is accelerating at the King Saud University in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, where the Horizon 2020 project will create a plant that generates low-cost renewable energy (under $115 per megawatt-hour) alongside low-cost freshwater ($1.04 per cubic metre). Overall, this approach is predicted to generate 30% fewer CO2 emissions than traditional desalination methods.
AI advances and investment: Though this is a more general trend than a specific innovation, it’s a vital one. A new report from Bluefield predicts that the global water industry will increase its AI investment amount to $6.3 billion annually by 2030, with information management remaining the fastest-growing technology segment in the industry. The key role of AI will be to grant water utility firms full visibility over their infrastructure networks, allowing them to predict and stop leaks and critical failures – hence water waste – before they happen.