6 gadgets that provide fresh water to those who need it most

There are 1.2 billion people around the world do not have reliable access to fresh, potable water. That’s why advancements in water purification technology are so important. Fortunately, there are a lot of innovative folks working on creative ways to solve water-scarcity issues by developing new techniques, maximizing efficiency and sometimes even producing drinking water from thin air.

Read on for six of the world’s most innovative water generators, from machines that collect H2O in the middle of the desert to a bike-mounted contraption that harnesses solar energy to collect water from the air as you ride.

Gallery: 6 gadgets that provide fresh water to those who need it most | 6 Photos

Sculptural WarkaWater Towers pull H2O from thin air

An Italian artist dreamed up the WarkaWater Tower, which harvests condensation to supply clean drinking water in areas of the world that need it most, like Ethiopia and other developing countries. The 30-foot-tall woven jute sculpture has an internal mesh made from nylon and polypropylene fibers that collects condensation and funnels it into a container. These towers can produce 25 gallons of potable water a day, and several towers placed in one area could generate enough water for an entire community.

Bike-mounted Fontus uses solar power to fill your water bottle

Fontus has developed a cylindrical water bottle that uses solar energy to harvest drinking water from thin air. The device uses a two-chambered cooler to condense water droplets, and then captures them in a built-in drinking vessel. Cyclists can net about a pint of water in an hour — meaning, the Fontus setup can’t replace all your water needs — but it’s a pretty cool trick. And if you’re not into cycling but still working up a powerful thirst outdoors, you’ll be pleased to learn that Fontus makes a version of its self-filling water bottle for hikers, too.

Nano Water Chip uses electricity to desalinate seawater

Transforming salty seawater into drinkable freshwater seems like a magic trick, but it’s becoming a common solution to the problem of water scarcity. Though the process can be expensive and energy-intensive, the Nano Water Chip gets around these hurdles by using a simple electrical charge to “shock” the salt out of the water. Its inventors say the chip is energy efficient and cheap, but the desalination method has a long way to go since it can only produce a small amount of clean water at 25 percent efficiency. Even so, it’s a start.

MITs shocking approach to desalination

Researchers at MIT have developed an alternate way to shock the salt out of water using a porous material known as a frit, which is made of small glass particles. When a charge is applied, salty water begins to divide into two volumes — one with more condensed sodium particles and one with sodium-depleted water. When the current is increased to a certain level, a shock wave forces the two to separate so much that they can be directed into different channels. The separated freshwater can then be collected for any number of uses.

Cilantro is an ultra-cheap, natural water purification method

Behind every water purification method is a long string of scientists working in laboratories, arduously testing and retesting one hypothesis after another until a breakthrough is born. Well, that’s the story for almost every method, that is. Fortunately, ancestral wisdom has its own answers to many all-too-common problems, and for purifying drinking water, sometimesthe solution is as simple as cilantro.

MIT is better at fog harvesting than anyone else

Back in 2013, MIT researchers took a note from nature and developed a method for harvesting fog to trap moisture — not unlike the fog beetle that lives in arid desert regions of South Africa.

MIT wasn’t the first to use fog-harvesting techniques to collect water, but a team developed a special material that’s capable of collecting five times more water than previous methods. It’s essentially a superfine mesh screen that can capture water droplets and then funnel them into a container. Early tests of the method in Chile showed incredible efficiency rates, and researchers are intent on scaling up the concept for use in areas of the world where people are in desperate need of clean water while living in clouds full of it.

source: engadget.com by Cat DiStasio

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