Imagine a solar panel that could pull moisture from the air and create clean drinking water, using only the power of the sun, for hundreds of millions of people worldwide who currently rely on unsafe or temporary water supplies.
Made of a water-absorbing material, the hydropanels collect water vapor into a reservoir, add minerals for taste, then pipe the water to indoor taps.
Source is the type of innovation that Conservation International hopes to help scale up to address global water, agriculture and biodiversity concerns through its new partnership with a so-called “Tech accelerator,” Elemental Excelerator, that helps early-stage businesses, such as Zero Mass Water, reach scale.
“By partnering with us, we’re able to say, ‘These are the problems that we’re facing, the real-world issues related to how we produce our food or use water, without wrecking the planet. Now use your tech tools to help address those problems.’ It’s the kind of collaboration that needs to happen more, bringing different worlds together.”
The cost of water works out to 15 cents per liter, according to Bartrop – far less than the cost of bottled water, or of building new infrastructure to provide drinking water where none exists, but costly nevertheless.
The village lacks access to drinking water and must bring in containers of water from the mainland by boat, which is expensive, creates plastic waste and uses diesel fuel.
Bartrop says Source is also a short- to medium-term, cost-effective alternative to bottled water for schools in communities such as Flint, Michigan, with lead in its drinking water, or for communities recovering from natural disasters or hurricanes, such as Puerto Rico. Silvani is quick to point out that Zero Mass Water is “Only part of the solution to our mounting water crisis” and that regulation, improved efficiency and watershed management are important pieces of the puzzle.