Tapping clean drinking water from thin air

There is a new water source that is pure and does not draw from the precious and ever-scarcer water resources of South Africa – enough water to ensure safe drinking water for each and every South African and it is all around us – the air. And it is being realised by innovative water dehumidifying technology developed by a Durban company.

Dew waterThe company’s Dew Catcher machine runs on energy from a wind turbine (but conventional electricity-driven options are available), and can produce 1 000 litres of clean water per day – and this is an off-shoot business of the company which bottles its water in glass for sale to restaurants around Durban.

The locally built machine mimics a natural process of condensation. It draws in air and cools it to dew point, which allows a precipitation of pure, fresh water. The water is then run under a UV light and through filters which impart trace minerals.

There is no impact on existing water sources, which need to be conserved. Used more widely, the machines could also take the pressure off existing municipal infrastructure to provide water.

“The only by-product is clean, dry air,” said Ross Badcock-Walters, owner and founder of Dew Catcher.

Numerous and regular independent tests have revealed the water to be free of biological impurities, proving it to be more than fit for human consumption.

“When the air condenses, impurities are separated from the water. The water cycle is mother nature’s cleaning process,” said Badcock-Walters.

The water-maker machine presents an ultimately renewable source, even in areas with low humidity, since vapour exists in the air in all climates.

Possible applications of the technology are far-reaching, from providing relief to water-polluted and water-borne disease areas and creating income for rural communities, to dehumidifying places where high humidity is a problem, such as greenhouses, libraries and art galleries. Temporary events like concerts or mass meetings could also benefit.

The company lists the possible applications as:

  • Rural Development
  • Disaster Relief
  • Medical & Hospitals
  • Agriculture
  • Military
  • Shipping
  • Lodges
  • Leisure Boating
  • Hotels
  • Tourism
  • Gymnasiums
  • Mining
  • Battery Industries

One of the many other benefits of the Dew Catcher is that it is able to produce the cleanest water on the market and locally too, removing the need for mass transportation. Its philosophy is based around putting a Dew Catcher where the water is needed most rather than transporting the water where it needs to be.

The water-maker is able to run on grid or generator electricity and is adaptable to rural specifications by running on wind or solar energy.