Intelligent Energy

A turbine that makes water from the desert air

Posting in Energy

Eole Water is testing a wind turbine in the United Arab Emirates that it says can produce hundreds of liters of drinking water a day from the dry desert air.

How do you produce your own drinking water in the desert? Why with wind turbines, of course.

French-based technology company Eole Water is testing a wind turbine in the United Arab Emirates that it says can produce hundreds of liters of drinking water a day from the dry desert air, reported Recharge News. Tests on the ground-mounted prototype began in October on the outskirts of Abu Dhabi and have been able to produce 500 to 800 liters a day. The company believes volume can reach 1,000 liters a day with a tower-top system. Eole Water has landed a number of industrial partners including Siemens, Carel and Danfoss.

Eole Water was founded in 2008. But the idea to create a system that could produce drinking water without access to a water network, came about more than two decades ago. In 1997, Eole Water founder Marc Parent was living on the Caribbean island of Saint Barthelemy when he first came up with the idea to produce his own drinking water, according to the company's website. He didn't have access to a water network, so he decided to collect the condensation from his air conditioner. After numerous power outages, he coupled the system of water production with a wind energy system.

How it works

Wind enters through intake vents around the nose cone of the mid-sized turbine and is then heated by a generator to become steam. The steam is compressed, which causes moisture to collect. It's then condensed and the water is sent through pipes inside the turbine tower and into stainless steel tanks for filtration and purification. The hot air is blown out of the nacelle by a heat exchanger and air extractor.

Meanwhile, the turbine generates 30 kilowatts of electricity, which is used to deliver the water to the storage tanks and power the purification system. According to the Recharge News report, efficiency rates of 50 percent of available water extracted from a given volume of air have been reached with the prototype. The system requires wind at speeds of at least 15 miles per hour to produce water.

Photo:  Flickr user Bruno Girin, CC 2.0

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Kirsten Korosec

Contributing Editor

Kirsten Korosec has written for Technology Review, Marketing News, The Hill, BNET and Bloomberg News. She holds a degree from Northwestern University's Medill School of Journalism. She is based in Tucson, Arizona. Follow her on Twitter. Disclosure