You’ve already heard of solar panels that can sustainably provide energy, but what about an ultra-high tech solar panel that can provide doubly-pure, twice distilled water for a family of four, out of thin air?
A new start up company called Zero Mass Water that won’t rely on outdated municipal water with decaying pipes full of lead to deliver water to the ‘middle billion’ and under-served people lacking clean drinking water in the world. It will create it with solar panels and a technology that capitalizes on moisture in the air.
The company’s tag line is ‘drinking water democratized,’ and it certainly seems to stand for the exact opposite world view of, say, Nestle, which has been stealing water from people and San Bernardino National Forestreserves and then selling it back to people in plastic water bottles. Zero Mass Water can deliver clean water to people in the poorest nations, with no need for piping or complicated water plants. The solar panel itself is smaller than a traditional air conditioner and can be placed in remote areas with ease.
The United Nations claims that more than 783 million people currently lack clean drinking water and more than 6 million people die annually from water-borne disease. They also claim that, with population growth, we can expect a 50 percent increase in water demand; but they haven’t accounted for simple technologies which can make use of millions of gallons of water using clean, sustainable, and even simple technologies. The demand for water could also easily be met by practicing better water harvesting, catchment, and filtering.
A blog post from Duke Energy, a partner in Zero Mass’s project claims the water purification system doesn’t need an outside source of energy, so it can be placed were infrastructure is damaged or non-existent.
At a recent installation in the coastal city of Guayaquil, Ecuador, a medical clinic was able to enjoy clean water for the first time without having to haul it in with trucks — an expensive endeavor. Though it rains frequently in Ecuador, there is little potable water.
The project has targeted an even larger area for humanitarian aid — water-generating solar panels are being placed in Jordan. The company claims the panels will help Syrian refugees in the country, possibly aiding 200,000 people, who currently have no access to clean drinking water.
If Zero Mass Water is successful in a war-torn area, their solar panels might also be perfect for the 5,300 cities across the U.S. who have been drinking lead-contaminated water due to crumbling infrastructure and a political elite who have been unwilling to replace old pipes with new ones, along with expensive water filters on municipal supplies.
When the sun can bring you energy, and drinking water, there is little need for poverty, ill-health, and reliance upon aging government and corporate structures. This invention truly could democratize water for the planet.