The latest Water Abundance Xprize winning device can harvest 2000 liters of freshwater from thin air per day at 2¢ a liter — all while running on clean energy.
From climate change to inadequate infrastructure to poor resource management, several factors make fresh, safe water a scarcity in many regions of the world.
It’s such challenges that pushed the Xprize organization to establish the “Water Abundance Xprize” program to incentivize innovative solutions to address water scarcity.
Backed by Indian carmaker Tata Group and Australian Aid, Xprize launched the Water Abundance Xprize competition in 2016 to find a solution to the world’s water shortage problems.
The foundation explained that: “over 780 million people in 43 countries are facing water scarcity due to lack of availability, uneven distribution and access, and contamination. While opportunities exist to augment currently available freshwater resources, including desalination and wastewater treatment, these approaches have been environmentally destructive and expensive thus far.”
To win the prize, innovator teams had to design an atmospheric water generator capable of harvesting 2000 liters of water per day, using 100 percent clean energy. The device also had to be cost-effective and have an operating cost of 2 cents per liter.
Although challenging, about 100 teams from around the world competed and showed the huge potential of atmospheric water generation technology.
The Xprize Winner
Back in March of this year, the Xprize organization announced the five finalists of the competition after reviewing submissions from 98 teams.
The five teams from four different countries that made into the final round are, in no order:
- Skydra, based in Chicago.
- Hydro Harvest from Australia.
- Uravu from India.
- The Veragon & Thinair from the UK.
- JMCC Wing from Hawaii.
Each of the finalist teams took the “milestone prize purse”, of $250,000 to complete their prototype device.
However, none of the above five teams was the winner of the competition.
Now, the two-year competition has come to an end by naming the grand prize winner. Interestingly the winning team was previously eliminated and didn’t even make it into the final list.
The Skysource/Skywater Alliance, based in California, was the grand prize winner of the Water Abundance XPRIZE of $1.5M “for developing an easily deployable high-volume water generator that can be used in any climate, meeting the [three] competition parameters.”
The winning atmospheric water generator is called WEDEW, for Wood-to-energy Deployed Water, and it combines two technologies into one system.
“Skywater” is a container-like device that creates artificial clouds, mimicking the natural process where warm air comes into contact with cold air to form water droplets. The water generated is stored in a tank inside the container.
Skywater needs clean power to run, a critical parameter of the competition, and this is where the second device of the system comes in.
The “biomass gasifier” vaporizes biomass through a process called pyrolysis to create an ideal hot and humid environment for artificial clouds to form.
The jury also awarded the JMCC WING team a $150K prize “to acknowledge the team’s ingenuity in developing a unique technological approach.”