U.S Artists, Engineers and Activists Develop Atmospheric Water Generator

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Fredrick Mugira
Appril 11, 2016

The openAWG project based in Oakland, California, USA has successfully completed a prototype atmospheric water generator (AWG), called BlueIce.

A team of Bay Area artists, engineers, scientists, and activists developed the BlueIce prototype as the first step towards developing a machine capable of generating drinking water from water vapor in ultra­low humidity conditions (<30% relative humidity).

The openAWG project is working to improve and open up low­humidity AWG technology to everyone, which currently has limited access and is prohibitively expensive.
For the openAWG team, atmospheric water generation is the first module of a larger concept.

openAWG project logo
openAWG Project Logo

openAWG is an open source project that focuses on atmospheric water generation (AWG). Water is essential to life and economy, yet 663 million people on this planet don’t readily have access to clean water.

“We want to help solve that problem by building an open source AWG system that is designed to pull water from the air in dry environments so it can provide drinking water for communities all over the world,” notes openAWG.

The vision is “civilization­in­a­box”, an open source collection of machines that not only pulls water from thin air, but has modules that can also distill and filter drinking water from urine and contaminated water, process human waste for algaculture fertilizer, provide industrial gases, generate power, and provide Internet connectivity.

The BlueIce prototype uses dehumidifiers and reverse osmosis to convert water vapor and generate 12 liters of pre­filtered water every 24 hours with an efficiency of 1.4 kilowatt hours per liter.

Initial testing at an EPA­certified laboratory confirmed the generated water is within safe thresholds for tested contaminants, but further testing is needed to fully comply with California and US federal regulations for potable water sources and bottled water plants. Aluminium, iron, mineral content, and bacteria are within safe drinking range.

The water was slightly alkaline at a pH of 9.10, which is outside of optimal guidelines but remains safe. The team is currently evaluating the re­mineralization filter due to higher than expected levels of turbidity.

The openAWG project is funded by contributions through Indiegogo and will next focus on testing prototypes in desert conditions to maximize performance in ultra­low humidity.

Progress and updates can be found at: https://openawg.github.io/
The designs and data for the openAWG models will continue to be open source as the project evolves and can be found at: https://github.com/openawg/openawg

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