News: Invention creates drinking water from thin air
A researcher at Nottingham Trent University is using repurposed fridges to create drinking water from thin air to help people in developing countries.
Tuesday, 8th July 2014
Dr Amin Al-Habaibeh, a reader in advanced design and manufacturing technologies at the university's School of Architecture, Design and the Built Environment, says the invention could help save lives in areas which have water shortages. The working prototype will go on show for the universitys Art and Design Degree Shows Festival, which takes place between 30 May and 7 June 2014. The machine, which can be run by solar power, is designed for use in humid climates and can provide enough water to meet the daily needs of a small family. Dr Al-Habaibeh said: "This project shows how everyday items which are often thrown away by many societies could be reused to help solve the problems of developing countries. Rather than dispose of unwanted refrigerators and freezers, we could repurpose them to help provide the clean drinking water which is needed by thousands of people in other countries. It's a fantastic example of how we can help people in the developing world while also being sustainable by supporting reuse and recycling." The team aims to provide instructions of how to make the machines - including the procedure and materials needed - over the internet so that people and charities around the world can build their own water generation systems. The invention works by drawing air into a cool fridge with reused computer fans and passing it through a cold copper tube. As the warm, humid air cools in the tube the vapour contents condense to form water. The water is then collected at the bottom of the fridge in a container and is stored at a low temperature to reduce any health risks or contamination. Minerals can be added to ensure that it has the right balance of nutrients which are found in ordinary water. People can access the water via a tap which prevents the need for the fridge to be opened frequently. Product design undergraduate Joe Wild, 23, worked on the project as part of his degree. He said: "Water shortage is one of the worlds greatest challenges and more than 768 million people globally lack access to a safe source of water. Not only that, but around 2,000 children die each day from diarrhoea caused by unsafe water and poor sanitation. Yet this simple invention could help alleviate a lot of those problems while finding a sustainable use for unwanted refrigerators. By repurposing old fridges - which otherwise may end up on the scrapheap we could provide the safe drinking water needed to help save peoples lives."