Pulling Water Out of Thin Air

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March 22nd marked World Water Day, an annual United Nations observance aimed at tackling the global water crisis. This year’s theme, “leaving no one behind,” focused specifically on U.N. Sustainable Development Goal 6:  access to safe and affordable drinking water for all by 2030.

Is there really a global water crisis? Yes. California can certainly attest to it, along with over 40 countries currently experiencing increased water stress and risk of source depletion. According to the U.N., “by 2050, it is projected that at least one in four people will be affected by recurring water shortages.”

To prevent one fourth of the world’s population from this horrific fate, the U.N. has identified the need to invest in water infrastructure, sanitation facilities, and proper hygiene education, as well as protect and restore water-related ecosystems. More developed countries have also identified the key role water technology and innovation must play in this global mission.  

With the wide-spread scarcity of safe drinking water supplies, one might wish it were possible to pull water out of thin air—and that’s exactly what one company has done. Watergen, an Israeli company established in 2009, has developed technology that pulls water vapor from the atmosphere, condenses it into water, filters out harmful constituents, and adds necessary minerals. What’s more, Watergen has worked with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to ensure this technology meets drinking water quality standards.

Watergen offers these atmospheric water generators (AWGs) in various sizes and capacities. According to the company’s website, the large-scale AWG generates up to 5,000 liters of clean water daily, which is the equivalent of 18,000 water bottles. The “Gen-350” medium-scale model was built with schools, hospitals, and residential buildings in mind, as it requires no infrastructure and generates 900 liters (238 gallons) daily using minimal electricity.

To commemorate World Water Day this year, Watergen donated a Gen-350 AWG to the island nation of Antigua and Barbuda. The company also recently donated AWGs to Brazil. But if you want to understand the global impact of this water technology, you need look no further than home. Watergen sent one of its emergency response vehicles (ERVs) equipped with a Gen-350 to California back in November to assist in rescue and recovery efforts for the communities affected by the catastrophic Camp and Woolsey fires.   

"We think this is the solution for the world in the long-run," said Maxim Pasik, the Watergen's executive chairman.

Water technology and innovation is just one piece of the puzzle, as it will take international cooperation and resources to successfully address the global water crisis. However, it is refreshing to know that companies like Watergen are actively working to effect change and make safe drinking water available for all.

To learn more about World Water Day and the global water crisis, click here.