Making water in the dessert: it might seem impossible, but SunGlacier proves otherwise. Ap Verheggen got the idea first when he was working on an art project at the North Pole and thought about what would happen if you put an iceberg in the desert. Taking this idea a step further, he developed an innovative device that harvests water from air by cooling down the device to very low temperature, which works the best under high temperatures, even or especially in the desert.
This innovation can prove very useful during droughts and could in the future be used to tackle water challenges in situations of scarcity. DCHI and the Ministry of Defense jointly supported the development of SunGlacier projects since this device could be very useful in cases where access to water is highly limited, and thus had the potential to support humanitarian operations as well as the operations of the Ministry of Defense. After lots of testing in in the Climate Chambers of the Dutch Ministry of Defence and on location in the Mali desert, improved versions of the device were made. Consultations with humanitarian organisations such as the Netherlands Red Cross were also set up, to allow Sunglacier to better understand the needs and requirements of humanitarian organisations. The technology of the latest version, number 58, is approved and ready for extended use.
The short explanation is this: When you grab a can soda out of the fridge on a hot summer day, small water drops appear on the surface. This is how we make SunGlacier work: condensation.
The 20-inch cube of stainless steel is embedded with solar cells that power a refrigeration device, which in turn cools off an inverted cone to create condensation. Gravity then drips accumulated condensate into a glass to provide fresh drinking water. The challenge was to cool down the cone to just above freezing point without using a huge amount of energy.
Another invention works similar in some regards, but the water harvesting process is different.
The TM01 water harvesting process works as follows: Water is cooled down below dew point and then sprayed by a nozzle into a cylinder. Air is drawn automatically into the cylinder by the falling water, and condensation begins instantly. The volume increases rapidly, and harvested water is collected in a reservoir ready for use.
If you want to read mode about SunGlacier and the recent challenge they worked on with university students in Oman, take a look at their website.