California Couple’s Device that Produces Water out of thin air wins $1.5M
This past October, a California couple named David and Laura Hertz won the $1.5 million XPrize For Water Abundance for their device which produces water by using air. The XPrize competition was created by a group of philanthropists, entrepreneurs and others to fund audacious, futuristic ideas aimed at protecting and improving the planet. Over the years the competition has awarded over $140 million. The first XPrize, which was for $10 million, was awarded in 2004 to Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen and aviation pioneer Burt Rutan for SpaceShipOne, the first privately financed manned space flight. The prize last year was offered to whoever could come up with a cheap, innovative way to produce clean freshwater.
David and Laura developed a system that uses shipping containers, wood chips and other detritus to produce up to 528 gallons (2,000 liters) of water a day at a cost of no more than 2 cents a quart (1 liter). The device essentially creates little rainstorms inside shipping containers by heating up wood chips to produce the temperature and humidity needed to draw water from the wood and the air. According to David, coconut husks, rice, walnut shells, grass clippings or just about any other waste product will do just fine to create the heat needed for the device to function without electricity. There were a total of 98 teams from 27 countries who entered the competition. David and Laura’s device is also available in commercial models that use electricity. Given California’s history of droughts, this may be a device that can be utilized in excessively dry parts of the state.