Cirrus Water Management is Perfecting Tech to get Fresh Filtered Water from Thin Air
A South African technology firm, Cirrus Water Management, is helping pioneer a technology known as atmospheric water generation, or AWG — in effect, it’s “squeezing” water out of thin air.
Commercial director Bruce Jones, a civil engineer by training who has worked for software vendors SAP and SAS Institute, explains that he joined Cirrus Water’s Mike Murray, who had been working for five years on an AWG solution for the South African market, to commercialise the offering.
He says that although the technology is in the public domain, only a handful of companies worldwide are pursuing it.
The firm’s products, which are modular in nature and fully manufactured in South Africa, are able to produce as much as a thousand litres of water a day, simply by tapping into the water vapour in the earth’s atmosphere. And the water the machines produce is clean and completely safe to drink.
There are two main ways that one can get liquid water from the atmosphere. The first uses desiccant technology, where a material absorbs moisture from the air. The second, which Cirrus employs, uses cooling condensation technology, which, Jones says, uses less energy.
AWG solutions are particularly useful in areas where it’s difficult or impossible to pipe in drinking water, such as at remote mining operations, although Jones is also hoping to drum up interest from the corporate market, where the technology could replace bottled water.
Jones explains that even in fairly dry environments, such as on the South Africa’s Highveld in the winter months, the air is still sufficiently humid to extract water. A fan sucks air into a machine, which then passes over cold coils — tubes that are cooled to just below the dew point, the temperature at which water vapour condenses into liquid — creating potable water.
“The machinery, through programmable logic controllers, has sensors that measure humidity and temperature, then … is able to determine how cold the coils should be and adjusts those temperatures so it drops below dew point so we can maximise water output,” Jones explains.
Read full story and photos of the machine: Tech Central