A new bottle system that condenses humidity from air into drinkable water

A new bottle system that condenses humidity from air into drinkable water

A long bicycle ride can be limited by the weight of water you bring along. There isn’t always an opportunity to stop and fill your bottle from a clean stream or drinking fountain. Nevertheless water can be gained from a different source, namely the air. Kristof Retezárhas, an Austrian industrial design student, developed Fontus: a prototype of a water bottle system that condenses humid air into clean, drinkable water. Thanks to his design he was elected as a finalist for the 2014 James Dyson Award.

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The Fontus is attached to the bike frame and contains a condenser unit and a collection bottle. On top of the fontus there is a small solar panel which enables the condenser. Due to the motion of the bike, air blows into a channel; the moist air is cooled, triggering it to condense. The droplets roll down the condensing part, where they all get collected.

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A filter is fixed onto the opening where the air comes through, preventing bugs or dirt from damaging the components or getting into the water. However, the filter isn’t effective at removing pollutants in the air, which could contaminate the water. Until another filter is added to correct this problem, it shouldn’t be used in an urban setting.

For the moment, the fontus is capable of producing a drop of water per minute. Unfortunately, this means that it will take a large amount of time to produce enough water to drink. Retezár’s home city of Vienna is not really known for its humidity climate. That is it was necessary to start his experiments in his bathroom using warm steam from the shower. Using this theory, he predicts that more humid areas could produce as much as half a litre per hour.

The expertise behind the design does not only apply to bike-drivers; it could possibly save lives. Over 780 million people on the planet do not have reliable access to clean water, and the problem is expected to get worse due to the changing climate. Condensing humidity into drinking water could be a way to solve this global problem.

Obviously, this is not the first time a device has tried to draw the moisture out of humid air for drinking purposes. Warka Water towers in the Namib Desert mimic beetles that drink the fog from the air. Next to this, Eole Water uses wind turbines in the United Arab Emirates to cool air, condensing it into drinking water.

The difficult thing isn’t necessarily creating the system, it is more about making it practical and cost-efficient on a large scale. The price of each Fontus device would likely run between $25-40 each, though that number will hopefully go down as the device is developed further. Mass production will also help drive down costs, and Retezár is now exploring crowdfunding options that would make a larger production order more achievable.

 

Main image credit

Image credits to Kristof Retezár – HuffPo

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