Solar Panels Capable of Mining Water in Australia

The Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA) is in the process of funding a deal with America based Zero Mass Water to deploy its solar-powered SOURCE drinking water systems across multiple locations in Australia.

The solar hydropanels that can produce clean drinking water from the air alone, using a combination of solar PV and solar thermal technology. ARENA will provide AU$ 420,000 to Zero Mass Water for the 150 Source panels, and the total cost of the project is AU$ 821,500.

The Source hydropanels produce pure water by harnessing the power of the sun and the moisture in the air. Utilising only the power of the sun, the panels don’t require external electricity or water to function and can produce up to 5 litres of clean drinking water on a standard day, depending on the climate.

Source panels draw ambient air through a fan into its devices. Using special nano-materials, engineered by Zero Mass, to absorb the water through a process similar to what makes sugar in an open container clump with humidity but at a highly concentrated value. The panel then helps in separating the water from the material. After it is condensed, it flows into a reservoir below the panel, where it runs through a mineral block that adds magnesium and calcium, common in drinking water.

Each Source hydropanel produces enough water to displace over 20,000 plastic water bottles over 15 years and over its expected lifetime over 70,000 plastic bottles according to the company’s Founder and Chief Executive Cody Friesen. “Source hydropanels provide a renewable, infrastructure-free water solution to the driest inhabited continent on Earth,” he added.

Source is just for drinking water. The technology doesn’t generate enough volume to be viable for general home or industrial use. The trial will be rolled out in 150 sites across Australia including Sydney, Adelaide, Perth as well as regional towns and remote communities, across airports, cafes, community centres, commercial buildings and sustainable properties.

ARENA CEO Ivor Frischknecht said: “Zero Mass Water’s project will create a product that offers a new application and market opportunity for the solar industry in Australia. Using a combination of solar PV with solar thermal technology, Source’s ability to create clean drinking water could be utilised to achieve positive solutions around water supply.”

He also added, “The potential benefits of this technology to the environment are important. This pilot project can produce reliable drought-fossil water sources to remote communities while simultaneously reducing the amount of plastic bottles that end up in landfill,” he told PV-tech.

Uravu labs (click here to read more), an Indian start-up is also venturing in the same field having perfected their own technology to harness water from the atmosphere using there S.W.A.G. Aquapanels.


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