They can be powered by solar or solar plus grid power
SuntoWater is a device that promises to solve the water scarcity problems even in heavily polluted areas or in deserts. Based on refrigerant technology, but using 70% less energy and costing 4-5 times less per gallon, it takes advantage of the atmosphere’s relative humidity to provide clean drinking water. SunToWater is more similar to a high-tech dehumidifier, has the size of an AC unit and is capable of producing between 150-400L (40-100 gallons) of potable water daily. It requires a solar thermal and an electricity input (this could be from a solar panel array or from the grid).
The company promotes it as ideal for residential (homeowners with big lawns to water and swimming pools) as well as commercial use (companies with large water needs, universities, vineyards, golf courses, cemeteries etc.), as multiple units can be stacked for more water generation capacity (up to 4,000 gallons a day in a 24-hour cycle). It is also ideal for locations that either lack water altogether or don’t have easy access to it and need to transport it at a high cost.
As far as the building industry is concerned, Benjamin Blumenthal, founder and CEO of the company, states that ‘We’re in the infancy of the deployment of our technology for the next century of buildings. Buildings of the future most certainly will be making their own water.’
In order to get the water out of the ambient air and into a salty solution, SuntoWater uses a salt-base absorbing element and fans. Then, solar heat is needed to take that water out of the salt and into a closed loop of steam that is condensed into distilled water. The water is then mineralized (with what is absolutely necessary for the body to be healthy), piped to a tank and ready for consumption.
The device has been tested in an artificial environment of 14% relative humidity (in the Sahara Desert it is 24%), and was still able to produce water. Even in areas with heavy air pollution (the prototype was tested in Louisville, KY, a place contaminated with jet fuel from its UPS hub), the device got the water out of the air, baked it into a steam and provided clean water.
SunToWater won first prize in the 2015 Impact Challenge from Singularity University, which focused on drought solutions, and was one of the finalists of the Founder Showcase Competition, a Silicon Valley seed-stage startup event. The device, coming with a price tag of some $9000, is expected to hit the market in late 2017 or early 2018 and for now, it is available for reservation with a refundable deposit of $500.