Atmospheric water harvesting: can we get water out of thin air?

David Warsinger created this map with LEGO® bricks, showing which areas of the world require more energy to extract fresh water from the atmosphere. While the yellows and oranges of arid deserts may make these technologies seem less than ideal, Warsinger sees great opportunities in the bluer regions (Amazon basin, Congo, Southeast Asia), where water quantity is not an issue, but water quality is. (Purdue University photo/Jared Pike)
David Warsinger created this map with LEGO® bricks, showing which areas of the world require more energy to extract fresh water from the atmosphere. While the yellows and oranges of arid deserts may make these technologies seem less than ideal, Warsinger sees great opportunities in the bluer regions (Amazon basin, Congo, Southeast Asia), where water quantity is not an issue, but water quality is. (Purdue University photo/Jared Pike)

Read the full story from Purdue University.

Earth’s atmosphere holds six times more fresh water than all of its rivers combined. So is it possible to harvest that water, in areas where people have no other fresh water source? Purdue University researchers have crunched the numbers and have the data to show which atmospheric water harvesting methods work best in different regions of the world.

“Water in the atmosphere is widely available, and requires a lot less filtering than that of groundwater,” said David Warsinger, assistant professor of mechanical engineering. “Some areas of the world don’t have a viable source of groundwater, and they’re not near enough to the sea to make desalination practical. For them, atmospheric water harvesting may make the most sense. But this is still very much an emerging technology.”

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