Machines designed by a California-based team can produce, in some cases, up to 300 gallons of fresh drinking water a day by pulling it straight from the air. And the team just won a $1.5 million prize for it.
The machines, dubbed Skywater, were created by the Skysource/Skywater Alliance, a team of sustainability experts from Venice, California. Skywater machines, housed in big metal boxes, are atmospheric water generators that condense water vapor from the atmosphere and turn it into drinking water. The machines can be powered by solar energy or the burning of biofuels. Depending on the model, they can be used for households, for farming or for emergency relief efforts.
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The prize, called the Water Abundance XPRIZE, was awarded Saturday by XPRIZE, a California nonprofit that runs competitions with sometimes multimillion dollars in prize money aimed at creating solutions for the world's problems. The Water Abundance XPRIZE was a two-year competition that sought to find answers to the global water crisis by facilitating the development of new technologies.
David Hertz, one of leaders of the Skysource/Skywater Alliance, says he's excited about what the Skywater machines could do for people living in parts of the world where water is becoming more scarce.
"I've just been very, very interested in water ... but also the importance of fresh water to mankind," Hertz, an architect who specializes in constructing sustainable buildings, says in a video on the team's website. "And in being in California, the issues are fast approaching crisis proportions."
Hertz says there's more than enough water vapor in the air from which the machines can extract to produce gallons of water every day. Hertz estimates there's about "37.5 million billion gallons of water" in the atmosphere at any given time, which Skysource says is more fresh water than in all the rivers on Earth.