Atmospheric Water Generation: Pure Magic?
The following article considers the fast-approaching world - wide freshwater crisis that is faced by us all and examines a new technology that has been developed by Hogen System’s to help address this.
Our Blue Planet
Viewed from space, Earth looks like a blue marble with white swirls. Some parts are brown, yellow, green and white. It floats like a bright jewel set against the infinite blackness of space. The blue part is water which covers most of Earth and which makes it unique amongst the planets in our solar system for having water in liquid form on the surface,in an amount conducive to the evolution of life.
Earth is the only planet in our solar system that has a significant amount of liquid water. About 74% of the surface of Earth is covered by it in liquid or frozen form. Because of this, we often call Earth the Blue Planet. And it is only because of its water that Earth is the home to millions of species of plants, animals and to Man.
Yet despite of this proportion of water, earth remains a fragile closed ecosystem in which fresh water remains one of the most limited and essential of commodities. While much of the world is covered by water, only 2.5 percent of this is fresh. The rest is saline and ocean-based. Even then, just 1 percent of our freshwater is easily accessible, with much of it trapped in glaciers and snowfields.
The water we drink today has been around in one form or another since the days when dinosaurs roamed the Earth, hundreds of millions of years ago. But while the amount of freshwater on the planet has remained constant over time — continually recycled through the atmosphere and back into our taps — our population has exploded, meaning that every year competition for a clean, copious supplies of water for drinking, cooking, bathing, and sustaining life intensifies.
With our exponentially growing population of 7.7 Billion and counting we are fast approaching a freshwater crisis. There is the same amount of freshwater on earth as there always has been, but our population’s explosion leaves the world's water resources in crisis. With around just 1 percent of our freshwater easily accessible, in essence, only 0.007 percent of the planet's water is available to feed and fuel our vast and growing population, which is forecast will reach 10 Billion by the year 2050.
Water scarcity is currently an abstract concept for most of us in the western world, a resource that is often simply taken for granted. But is a stark reality for many others; the result of a multitude of geographic, environmental, political, economic, and social forces.
Geography, climate, engineering, regulation, and competition for resources, make some regions comparatively rich with freshwater, whilst others face drought and debilitating pollution. In the developing world, clean water is often either hard to come by or is a commodity that requires laborious work or significant money to obtain.
Water Is Life
Wherever there are people, they need water to survive. Not only is the human body 60 percent water, but this crucial resource is also essential for producing food, clothing, manufacturing, moving our waste, and keeping both the environment and us healthy.
Unfortunately, man is not an efficient water user. (The average hamburger takes 2,400 litres, of water to produce, and many water-intensive crops, such as cotton, are grown in arid regions). According to the United Nations, water use has grown at more than twice the rate of population increase in the last century. By 2025, an estimated 1.8 billion people will live in areas plagued by water scarcity, with two-thirds of the world's population living in water-stressed regions as a result of use, growth, and climate change. The challenge we now face as we head into this future is how we effectively conserve, manage, and distribute the water we have.
And with this growth of our population we have seen the rise of the megacity - usually defined as a metropolitan area with a total population in excess of 10 million people. Right now there are some 47 megacities in the world, of which three have over 30 million residents: Tokyo, Shanghai, and Jakarta. The largest megacities in each continent are Tokyo in Asia, New York in North America, São Paulo in South America, Lagos in Africa, and Moscow in Europe.
With consumption increasing exponential in line with population growth these conurbations place massive demands on the finite resources and ecosystems that surround them. These cities already massive water and waste water infrastructures are struggling to cope. Sao Paolo for example, one of the worlds fastest growing mega cities with a population of some 22 Million is already running out of water and has experienced its reservoirs running dry. Furthermore, the water that runs from its taps is not safe to drink without further filtration, which has caused residents of more affluent apartment blocks to bore their own wells to secure their own private clean water supplies, thus further depleting the aquifer.
How much Water do we need?
The World Health Organization (WHO) states that for basic survival, each human needs 15 litres per day of potable water. There are many different opinions on how much water we should drink every day. The general recommendation for adults and children is to drink at least 2 litres of water per day. However, for those with physical jobs, exercising or living in hot climates, more is needed – up to 4 litres or more.
But the water we actually consume is just the tip of the iceberg. Estimates vary, but typically the current average daily water consumption is around 340 litres per person, or 900 litres per household. The largest use of household water is to flush the toilet, and after that, to take showers and baths. This is why, with the now widely recognised need for water conservation, we are starting to see more toilets and showers that are designed to use significantly less water than before. The resource is too precious to simply allow it to be squandered inefficiently and in effect go straight down the drain. Indeed, many local governments now have regulations that specify that water faucets, toilets and showers only allow a certain amount of water flow per minute.
As described above we are already seeing innovative steps being taken to minimise the amount of water we use, from flow regulators to non-stick nanometric coatings for toilets thus reducing the amount of water needed to flush them clean.
The traditional water infrastructure requires a massive infrastructure for its systems of water supply, treatment, storage, distribution, water resource management, and flood prevention. These systems place their own demands on their local ecosystem, ranging from the obvious effects of constructing dams, canals and treatment plants to the impact of the mains distribution systems used to deliver clean water to the consumer and the reclamation systems used in turn to remove the waste water and treat it.
Inevitably this costs both financially and environmentally, and is only geared towards centralised urban conurbations.
But is there a better way to obtain a safe and secure supply of potable water where traditional infrastructure is not viable and/or to supplement supplies where purity of delivery at point of consumption cannot be guaranteed via the mains?
Hogen thinks “Yes”. If you live ‘off grid’, somewhere where there is no infrastructure, or the quality of the water delivered is simply not safe to drink and you have to think outside the box… And outside the box is air. The very atmosphere we breath contains moisture locked in as vapour content, corresponding to varying degrees of humidity depending on where you are in the world and atmospheric conditions. This ‘invisible water’ is essentially there for the taking – if you use the right technology.
To provide water for our future Hogen System’s mission is to generate the highest quantity of water in the most efficient, cost effective, environmentally friendly and sustainable way, directly from this surrounding air, thus ensuring safe clean drinking water is always available, anywhere in the world.
Water From Air
Hogen Systems have developed an Atmospheric Water Generator (AWG) that extracts the water from the surrounding atmosphere to produce safe clean drinking water on site using a unique, patented technology.
By using an intelligent control system Hogen’s Water Generators produce the highest amount of potable water using the least amount of energy. Water is extracted from the surrounding atmosphere using an optimized combination of condensation and absorption technologies. The extraction process is dynamically optimized using an intelligent control system that ‘senses’ the environment and puts the unit into the optimum operating mode to generate the maximum water output in the most efficient way. This allows the optimum process to be established for any mission conditions.
Intelligent Water Generation
The process can essentially be considered in three stages:
- Atmospheric Induction
- Water extraction and separation
- UV Purification, filtration and Storage
The control systems sensors monitor the surrounding atmospheric conditions to determine if condensation and/or absorption into desiccant material is required for optimum efficiency
There are many benefits that accrue from Atmospheric Water Generation
- Suitable for use anywhere in the world
- Is ideal for off grid residences, remote facilities and expeditions
- Generates pure potable water cost effectively
- Minimizes environmental impact by eliminating the need to transport and store water
- Water is produced at point of use. This eliminates the need for traditional abstraction, filtration systems and chemical dosing, minimises the risk of water contamination and completely eliminating losses caused through leaks in conventional distribution systems
- Assured Water Quality is guaranteed – Hogen works with an external body who test our water to ensure we meet national and World Health Organization (WHO) standards
Where Can This Technology Be Used?
Hogen’s Water Generators are suitable for use in a diverse range of applications. With a range of modular water generation solutions ranging from our Compact and Midi product range up to our large installation Maxi units, we have a scalable solution for you whatever your need.
Examples of where atmospheric water generation can be effectively used include remote locations such as offshore oil and gas rigs, remote facilities in the desert, military deployments, disaster relief applications, remote of grid private properties, domestic properties with poor quality supplies and even super yachts and nuclear bunkers. In fact Hogen Generators can be supplied for use anywhere in the world that has a power source available.
In a world facing a freshwater crisis, potable water is going to become an ever more precious commodity. Solutions that can generate this resource in a sustainable cost effective way with minimal environmental impact will be crucial. Atmospheric water generation provides one of the best solutions to achieve this aim. Flexible solutions such as those offered by Hogen Systems allow water to be created and delivered right at the point of demand. No complex infrastructure, simply ‘power up’, and the water will be generated out of thin air. The work of a magician? No. The result of a highly effective and unique appliance of science and technology? Very definitely Yes.