The SunGlacier device successfully captured water in the hottest, driest climate on Earth.
The innovative design team, SunGlacier, has created a device capable of capturing water even in the hottest, driest atmospheres. SunGlacier was invited by the Dutch Ministry of Defense to test the device. The Ministry selected a place in the Sahara Desert, located in the western Africa country, Mali.
SunGlacier named the device Desert Twins and said it is “probably the world’s first artificial water well to work entirely off the grid.” Desert Twins are named for the two units that work in tandem. One houses energy, while the other makes the water.
The device uses condensation to take water vapor from the air, like when water droplets appear on the surface of a cold glass. It is solar powered and uses a 12Volts, 50Watt system, which requires about as much energy as a standard car headlight.
SunGlacier had been testing the device at their homebase in the Netherlands, and the Sahara Desert climate proved to be a lot more difficult. Sunglacier reported on their website, “The first three days of testing were frustrating; our own sweat was the only liquid produced.”
At the beginning, the team failed because the high heat in the desert prevented the device from working. In the high desert temperatures (up to 120° F or 50° C), the box needs to be 50° F lower than the atmosphere in order to produce condensation.
At first, any water droplets produced would immediately vaporize. Then, “Finally, on the fourth day, we succeeded in cooling the ambient air inside the box to such an extent that condensation could take place and something other than steam was possible… On day 5 we produced even more water and ice – the extremely dense ice was harder than a rock.”
The SunGlacier projected was created by Dutch artist, Ap Verheggen. He wanted to contribute to the conversation on climate change research in a way that would promote hope and change the “name, blame, shame” culture associated with global warming. Verheggen says climate changes means culture change, and asks people to consider what this means for and about modern society.
In the future, the Desert Twins device could be used to address the global water scarcity. Verheggen hopes to improve components of the device including a better storage system and adding minerals and purifying the water.
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