Water From Air
The idea of collecting water from air is not a new one. If you have an air conditioner, you already have a water collection device. I never knew how much water I wasted until May of 2014. I had a problem with a very clogged drain pipe on the central heat and air unit in my shop. The drain tube was clogged beyond my ability to clear it and I ended up replacing the entire drain pipe. It seems I had forgotten to pour a little bleach through the pipe to kill the algae that forms there and the last few feet of pipe was blocked solid.
During the battle to repair this problem I realized how much chlorine and fluoride free water was just trickling down the drain. I came to realize that I’m paying good money to capture this water through the air chilling process, why not keep it. And that’s exactly what I did by adding a T fitting to the drain pipe to divert the water into a five gallon bucket. I also added a shutoff valve which would allow me to drain the water off the old way if I don’t have time to empty the bucket. With this setup I was collecting up to 10 gallons of water a day during the hottest days of summer.
So what did I do with it?
Because the water was collected on the aluminum fins of my air conditioner I chose not to drink it. I chose to water my plants with it instead. The plants thrive on rain water and this air conditioner water is very much the same as rain.
Could I drink it?
Probably in an emergency, but I’d like to have it tested first. However if the condensation is collected on copper surfaces, would that water be safe to drink? I think so. A lot of homes use copper pipes as water lines. And that’s why I’ve been tinkering with gadgets that might allow me to collect water from air for human consumption. Water that can be used in cooking, or just enjoyed on a hot summer day. It would also be a good thing if the water collector could be portable as well. And maybe it could run off of currents that are common as portable power sources, like that from a car. But in the meantime I’m running my water from air experiments off of the current generated from my power pod, which also a twelve volt system.
What’s so special about that?
Nothing, there are plenty of atmospheric water generators out there. The difference is in how it’s powered. I’m looking at of grid or power outage applications. After all, what can you do when a wall outlet is not available?
I’ve been experimenting in using refrigeration and atmospheric water generators as a dump load for my power pod. The idea is, when you are using solar and/or wind power to charge batteries, eventually the batteries are filled to capacity. At that point all excess power is routed through a dump load, which is usually some kind of resistor coil. A dump load can also be a light or a motor, or Just about anything that will burn off that unneeded power.
My thought is why waste it? If you can find a better way use that excess power, like making some copper fins cold to capture water from air, why not. In my mind, this practice would raise the efficiency of your off grid system by using what would otherwise be wasted energy.
A Heavy Load
My first 12 volt water from air experiment was actually three experiments in one. The first goal was to build a portable power distribution board to harness the power generated by the Stealth VAWT and to create a loaded circuit to see how the turbine would act when a demand was placed on the generator. The second part of the experiment revolved around refrigeration and the idea of cooling a small space. And the third expectation was the idea of collecting water from the condensation created by the cooling process.
While my first experiment in Peltier refrigeration wasn’t a total flop, it wasn’t all that successful either. So I thought the easiest way to get the temperatures down inside the refrigerator would be to lower the temperature of the Peltier’s hot side while they were running. And I did that by adding a computer style water cooling system to the hot side of the Peltier modules.
After the water cooling system was added to the Peltier modules, the refrigerator was actually working fairly well. But still no water was being collected. So I decided to focus on collecting water from air rather than chilling objects in a cooler.
Life continues without technology, but nothing lives without water.
Just in case you’re curious about the blue box on the power board, it’s a boost cap module I use as a battery. It’s small but powerful! It charges the instant power goes into it, and it helps keep my six (small) 6 volt batteries fully charged. The sad thing is, I can’t seem to find these little blue beauties anymore. It’s a pity! Even very good ideas like that don’t make very far without capital.