'Source' Makes Fresh Drinking Water Out Of Thin Air

An Arizona startup has created Source, a hydropanel system that's able to extract water from the air. It's able to convert what's acquired into fresh, drinkable water in a wide variety of climates, making it a great alternative source in rural areas.


May 17 2019, Updated 9:54 a.m. ET

While we’re not literally able to pull much out of thin air, fresh drinking water is certainly a possibility. Sound too good to be true? Zero Mass Water has created Source, a “hydropanel” that’s able to extract moisture from the air. The goal here is an awesome one: to create an alternative source of drinking water that could be used to help rural areas.

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Source can be used offgrid, making it accessible to people who are living in remote areas. This technology is able to generate water with just sunlight and air. Nanomaterials are able to filter out water from the air and the hydropanel then separates the water. This acquired liquid runs through a reservoir where magnesium and calcium are added into it for consumption. This reservoir can hold 30 liters.

Based on the climate, a two-panel system is able to create between 4 to 10 liters, or up to a 20-pack of 16.9-ounce bottles, per day. Even though location is a significant factor in its performance, Source is optimized to pull water in arid regions. This was an easy focus as the startup is located in Arizona.

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The water-generating device can be helpful in a variety of ways, from personal use at home to wider usage at businesses and schools. Even though creating a big package of bottled water sounds like a significant amount, this device is geared toward consumption and not general use. While it may not be feasible to replace a town's bad water, it could replace an old building's drinking system.

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“Water stress is a human condition,” Cody Friesen, CEO of Zero Mass Water, told Forbes. “We want to guarantee access to safe drinking water for every person in the world, and fundamentally change the human relationship to water.”

With $24 million received by investors, Zero Mass Water will be able to sell Source in the United States beginning this week. The device has already been installed in numerous places around the country, such as a Duke Energy facility in North Carolina and select homes and schools in Arizona where the startup was born. It’s also stretched into other countries like Mexico, where clean, fresh water is a struggle to obtain.

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How much does it cost to get Source? Each panel is $2,000 with installation running an extra $500. It’s a hefty price tag, especially when a typical home setup features two hydropanels. However, for those that exclusively buy bottled water, the same quality will be created by Source and Friesen says it would pay for itself after five years and it would remove up to 70,000 plastic bottles from the trash over its lifetime.

A week ago, Zero Mass Water was named as a CES 2018 Innovation Awards Honoree for Source. The panel nominated the Arizona startup “for its outstanding design and engineering in the smart home category.”

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