Water from the Air - Env study

I am assisting a company who is bringing an atmospheric water generator, - read: air to water machine - industrial strength dehumidifier, to market. This puppy will produce 1,700 - 2,000 gallons of fresh water a day in good humidity, which we have here in Austin, Texas. Imagine 20 of these guys in a circle pumping 40,000 gallons of water into a water tank for distribution. The power to run the unit is cheaper that what it would cost to run a generator to pump from a well.

The U.S. military will suck up every bit of the units they can produce for the foreseeable future. Once production is ramped up, commercial sales will begin. in the meantime someone in uniform wants to know what how the machine will alter the surrounding humidity.

So I have set up 4 sensors around the machine and one mounted on the machine. Data is being sent up to Azure every 15 minutes. Client has access to website that charts the temp/humidity for the day. Later we will do some crunching of the numbers to see if there was much of a difference with the data coming from the weather station at the army base.

The unit used to sit where the dead grass is. It was moved off site for a FEMA conference in San Antonio recently and has not be place back between the sensors.

You can see the little white guys out there in the field.

Sensors and IOT is not my day job (.net enterprise developer/manager), so this was done on the cheap.

The housings are pvc with the units mounted on wood slats.

I am using ElectricImp hardware. They are cheap and come with a temp/humidity/pressure/light sensor for $30. They have Wi-Fi onboard, and the “tail” just plugs in. You program Imp via their website. Code is pushed to the Imp and you write sister code on their server. Data gets sent to their server where my code then sends it off to my WebAPI on Azure, which then gets pushed into Table Storage.


Keeping a MiFi device juiced up and on has been a challenge. Configuring the Imps with credentials is done through an app that literally send the data via light. Its pretty cool. But a pain to do when you need to change wifi devices.

I am done with wifi out in the field. I believe LoRaWAN will be a better solution for sensor to cloud coms.

I posted this because everyone likes looking at projects…I think.


Great project! Thanks for sharing!

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@ ianlee74 - Thank you.

@ Terrence - interesting and inspiring. Thanks! :slight_smile:

yes awesome share.

Can I ask, do you see a noticeable change in humidity in the immediate area when that puppy is working? I would expect it’d not be something that you’d really see, otherwise the extraction rate would change over time, I would have thought that the air would change sufficiently for this not to be easily detected.

I was trying to do a bit of basic research on how much water vapor is actually in the air. It can range from 0%-4% by volume. Another way to look at it is that about .04% of fresh water is in the air.

As I recall from looking this up two days ago if you suppose that 2% water vapor in the air and that you could extract 20%-30% of it you would need something like 200,000 cubic feet of air. My guess would be in the real world you would need multiple times that as trying to dry air (when you need dry air for an industrial process) is very energy intensive and the volume of water you get out is small.

It would seem that pumping water from a ground source would be best, followed by a shallow well, followed by a deep well. The problem with the wells being you have to drill them. In a remote environment, like a forward operations center I could see the moisture extraction being cheaper then flying in a bunch of water by air, or perhaps for disaster relief but otherwise conventional methods would be better.

The neatest thing I think though is that you can say your a moister farmer, just like Luke Skywalker’s uncle! So, you can honestly tell people you are using ‘star wars’ technology. :stuck_out_tongue:

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@ Brett - Correct, no noticeable dry air. There is just too much water in the air. The request is from someone in the Army who is hyper sensitive to possible environment damage if many units were to be deployed.

The don’t understand that the water isn’t leaving the earth. We suck it out of the air, drink it, bathe in it, wash a car, water the lawn etc., then it goes back up in to the atmosphere. (big picture)

Now, put this thing into a large airplane hanger or gymnasium and you are going to dry out the air until your eyes pop out, or sink in. :slight_smile:

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@ Jeff_Birt -

Water from the might be contaminated. Cloud juice is pure! Camp Mabry here in Austin, is looking at using these for all of their water needs in their efforts to detach from the grid.

I don’t have the exact #'s but this machine is so efficient it is cheaper than pumping water from a well (how deep I don’t know).

Yes, you are correct. :slight_smile:

Now if it had laser beams… :whistle:

@ Justin - [quote]Now if it had laser beams… Whistling [/quote]

Next month.

Highly relevant recent EEVBlog: EEVblog #881 - Fontus Self Filling Water Bottle BUSTED! - YouTube

My back-of-the-envelope math says that they need just over 337 kW of power to produce 1,700 gallons in 12 hours. So, each of these 20 water machines needs most of a 570 kVa generator to do its work.

Not saying this isn’t possible, or that it’s not being done, just saying that this probably isn’t the future of potable water on any meaningful scale.

@ godefroi - Well I don’t have the numbers, but the shocking claims have been verified by the Army, that is why they are so excited about this product. I’m just the sensor guy. 8)

@ Terrence - The same army that trained psychic soldiers ([url]https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Stargate_Project[/url])?

Again, I’m not saying it’s not possible or that they won’t do it; in some cases, it just doesn’t matter that much how wasteful it is, if you have no other options.

@ Terrence - [quote]Now, put this thing into a large airplane hanger or gymnasium and you are going to dry out the air until your eyes pop out, or sink in. Smiley[/quote]

I absolutely agree with you that Vapor pressure is almost impossible to change, so given the sheer volume of water in the air at any given moment at a reasonably comfortable outside temperature, there will not be a noticeable difference. My question is, how are you sealing that hanger or gymnasium, because I’ve tried with structures, and it always seems to find a way to leak in / out…

@ michaelb - [quote]how are you sealing that hanger [/quote]

One of the guys just told me they were running it in a large area inside and it dried out so bad you could hardly stand it.

I have no experience with that test.