Extracting Water From the Air Using Wind Power

The prospect of being able to provide water that is potable for drinking in parts of the world that is in serious need of it is what the Eole Water business is all about.

The technology that the company has been developing over the last 8 years or more involves using wind power to create water, seemingly out of thin air.

Many of us have witnessed the phenomenon ourselves when we run our air conditioners. Indeed, the founder of Eole Tech, Marc Parent, came up with the possibility of building such a device when he began collecting water from his air conditioner while living in the Caribbean.

A Choice of Three Devices

Eole Water has developed three different water producing methods and they may either be used independently of one another or as integrated techniques.

WMS1000 Wind Turbine – produces water using wind power
WMS-30kW Solar Panel – produces water using solar energy
WMS-30kW Grid Tie – produces water from a local electricity network

The process involves a wind turbine and the act of condensation which, when the conditions are right, can produce over a thousand litres of water per day.

We will discuss the exact process of how these devices work as well as the prospects for their installation in the future.

It is still early days as far as bringing the first Eole Water wind turbine to commercial use, although a test installation has been set up in Abu Dhabi that has been reportedly producing 500 litres or more per day.

There are a number of important factors that will affect the rate at which the water can be produced. They are:

 

  • Wind speed
  • Ambient temperature
  • Humidity

The test turbines that have been in operation in Abu Dhabi have been capable of producing an average of around 62 litres per hour through conditions of 45 per cent humidity and temperatures of 24C.

The WMS1000 Wind Turbine

The model of wind device that has been in development for almost 15 years is the WMS1000 wind turbine. This current version has an installed capacity of 30kW and because the device only needs the power of the wind to produce water it is possible that it can be installed in remote locations and operate without the need for accompanying infrastructure.

The proposed lifespan of the WMS1000 has been quoted as being 20 years and, when the conditions are right can produce as much as 1200 litres of water per day. Because the device does not require any other resources to operate there is minimal impact on the environment into which it is placed.

For the WMS1000 to be capable to begin producing water it requires winds of at least 15 km/h to be blowing. When the wind does blow it is equipped with three levels of wind protection that will protect it from winds as strong as 180 km/h.

  1. A centrifugal pitch control to regulate the rotor speed.
  2. A mechanical and electrical rotor braking system to prevent damage from the blades spinning overly quickly.
  3. A tilting mast that integrates double-acting telescopic cylinders with thrust capacities of 115 Tonnes. In case of weather conditions such as hurricanes the WMS1000 wind turbine can be tilted and secured.

Due to the locations into which the WMS1000 will be most desperately needed it is also necessary to protect it from sandstorms and the presence of a great deal of sand, which could potentially affect the mechanics of the device. It is also crucial that it is capable of withstanding high desert temperatures up to 50C and this is why the decision to test it out in Abu Dhabi was a good move.

How the Process Works

The process of converting air to water may seem quite an incredible “trick” but it really is a straightforward scientific process. After all, it happens naturally almost every day in the form of dew.

The process uses condensation to transform a humid atmosphere into its liquid state. The WMS1000 does this by pulling the moving air of the wind into the turbine where it passes over a humidity condenser. When the air is cooled to dewpoint and is transformed into its liquid form it is collected and passed through a filtration system to purify it. The purified water is put through a re-mineralization process and then stored in a storage tank located at the unit’s base.

An important fact about the components that come in contact with the water such as the condenser is that they are made from a special stainless steel alloy that will continue to operate without the risk of corrosion.

Below is a look at the inner components of the WMS1000 wind turbine.

But Remember…Wind Turbines Have Another Use

While the primary purpose of this particular wind turbine is to provide drinking water by using the moisture in the air, it is still a wind turbine. The wind power that is harnessed to produce water may also be used to generate electricity. The WMS1000 wind turbine operates using the wind power that also supplies the moisture that is extracted but it is capable of generating at least 25% more electricity than it needs for its operation. This means that it could be used to provide additional electricity to the local area.

Technical Specification of the WMS1000 Wind Turbine

Type

3 blade, horizontal axis

Rated Power

30kW

Hub Height

24m

Nominal Wind Speed

10m/s

Minimum Wind Speed

7m/s for water production

Maximum Wind Speed

50m/s

Rotor Diameter

13m

Nominal Rotation Speed

100 RPM

Blade Material

Fibreglass and epoxy resin

Expected Lifespan

20 years

There are still some unanswered questions about the Eole Water Wind Turbine technology that will be important in deciding whether it is going to be a commercially viable option. Naturally, these questions relate mainly to money and the price of the devices themselves as well as the installation and ongoing maintenance.

At this stage, because the first on-site test project is still in progress the company is unable to release any possible figures with regard to costs. However, it is possible to make an educated guess based on the costs connected to installing similarly sized turbines.

According to the Wind Industry website a wind turbine under 100 kilowatts will cost anywhere in the region of $3,000 to $5,000 per kilowatt of  capacity.

The installation of the wind turbine is going to be dependent on many factors including the accessibility of the location, the cost of transporting to the site, and the actual process of siting the turbine.

Constant Wind Supplies Are Not Necessary

One of the big variables with the reliability of using the WMS1000 turbines to produce drinking water is the wind. Winds of 15 km/h are not always going to be available, particularly in some of the hotter and drier desert regions that boil under the sun most days of the year.

The answer is the WMS-30kW Solar Panel that has been devised and developed as a water production device that is solar powered. This solar panel has been made to be fully self-sufficient which means that it won’t have to be hooked into any external grid system for it to be fully operational. The WMS-30kW Solar Panel can be used in conjunction with a wind turbine either as a complementary piece of equipment or as a backup system that will continue to produce water in completely still conditions. It would be the perfect solution for desert regions where the sun shines brightly for the vast majority of the year.

The customers of the wind turbines and solar panels are expected to be government from around the world. The prospect of providing a consistent and reliable water source for the residents of some of the more isolated and arid parts of the world must provide huge motivation for any government body and it is expected that many will be more than interested in investing in the technology.

The essential mechanics of the WMS-30kW Solar Panel water generator is similar to the wind powered device in that the air is passed through a humidity condenser and cooling compressors to extract the moisture from the air. The difference is in the way the energy is created to power the process. When the unit is connected to solar panels it is able to trigger the required air flow into the heat exchanger.

The image below illustrates the main components of the water device.

The Non-Renewable Energy Option

There are parts of the world where an ample power supply is not a problem while a reliable water source is. In this case it might be a preferable solution to simply hook a unit up to the electrical network for a 24 hour water generator.

This is the 3rd option provided by Eole Water with the WMS-30kW Grid Tie. Effectively, this is a 20’ container that can be placed in the desired location and connected to the local electricity network. Rather than hooking the unit to a solar power panel system the power comes from the external electricity supply but the results are the same and a constant water supply will be available while ever the unit remains connected to the power.

Is It Commercially Viable?

This is the critical question that must be answered – and it will be over the coming months and years as more data is gathered from these early tests. Water is an essential element of life and while it is scarce in some parts of the world, man has been able to locate and use it to stay alive.

Installing a water producing wind turbine is only going to be attractive to government bodies if the price remains low enough to justify it. When Eole can come up with some definite indications as to the likely cost to install a 30kW device that is capable of supplying a significant amount of water to an area we will get more of an idea as to whether the technology will attract the buyers.

To Learn More About This Technology

There is a lot more to find out about the Eole Water Wind Turbines and the accompanying devices and the Eole Water website can provide you with much of it. You will also find contact details there.

One Response to “Extracting Water From the Air Using Wind Power”

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  1. ABHA says:

    is this will effect rainfall in remote areas where there is more use of water for irrigation?

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