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Drinking water can be gathered from the atmosphere

Drupps are developing a technology for producing clean water from the air. ÅF helps with simulations and construction work. The technology can produce up to 700 000 liters clean water per day and their vision is a world where everyone has access to clean water.

We’re facing a global water crisis where estimated 2.1 billion people don’t have access to clean water and where the water supply varies heavily depending on where you live. Many research projects are trying to solve the water issue and one technique is to collect the water contained in the air. Because even when we can’t feel it, there is an incredible amount of water in the air. The advantage of Drupps’ technology is that the water is produced locally, reducing transport distances.

“Drupps’ vision to solve the water shortage is of course completely in line with ÅF’s vision of Making Future. To get to work in projects like these, that can have an effect all over the globe, might be the most exciting thing an engineer can do”, says Jonas Törnsten, Section Manager of Life Science Product Development Uppsala.

ÅF has been a part of the project for a couple of years. Engineer André Lisspers has been working closely to Drupps, especially with construction and design.

“Today we’re only four people working with Drupps and we face a global market. To have the support from ÅF is a huge advantage for us because of their knowledge and experience”, says Fredrik Edström, COO of Drupps.

Local water production good for environment

Besides the obvious need of clean water in areas suffering of famine, there is an alarmingly high risk of water shortages in big cities in the near future. Among them counts Bangalore, Bejing and Cape Town. That is why Drupps also sees a market in those regions, where big cities could produce their water locally. Their first installations are planned next year.

“Our technology will also be used in industries where lots of water are needed as an insert commodity in production, e.g. in breweries or companies producing bottled water or soda”, says Fredrik Edström.

The price for producing water is 0.01-0.03 USD per liter. The production runs on electricity but could also partly run on thermal power. The variation in price depends on the clients depreciation period of the investment and price on electricity. Now the challenge for Drupps is to secure their production capacity in order to meet the demand.

How the technology works

Drupps has developed a liquid, called FLOW, that collects the water steam from the air. The concept consists of two modules, A and B. The hygroscopic liquid FLOW is placed in module A, which has the size of a shipping container. When air flows into the module, the water contained in the air is caught by the liquid which then transports to module B. In module B, the water is separated from the liquid. Then the FLOW liquid transports back to module A where the whole process starts over. The method is modular and therefore scalable. An installation normally consist of 20 A modules and one B module.

It also exists other ways of collecting water from the air. A common way is to cool the air to the dew point in order to collect the dew and in that way condense the water. However, the problem is that the technique is very energy consuming and that it does not work in cold or dry climates. Drupps method, based on the liquid, can produce water regardless of temperature, and in dry climates.