For grey nomads driving long hours through the scorching Outback heat, two things are of paramount importance … keeping cool and keeping hydrated. Now, thanks to the ingenuity of an engineer at the Ford motor company, both goals can be achieved with stunning efficiency.
The secret is not letting water vapour escape. There can hardly be one traveller anywhere who hasn’t pulled up after a long, air-conditioned journey and wondered anxiously if the puddles of liquid gathering beneath the vehicle’s engine are the start of a mechanical nightmare.
Doug Martin, a powertrain controls engineer at Ford, knew though that when a car’s air conditioner is running, water vapour in the air accumulates on a vehicle’s condenser, changes into a liquid state and then drips to the ground. Mr Martin was not at all happy that all of that water was being wasted and he decided to do something about it.
Fast forward a few years and the water-loving innovator, along with colleague John Rollinger, had created a prototype system which collects that condensation, and eventually recycles it as drinking water in the car. The On-the-Go H2O system collects the car’s air conditioner condensation, filters it, and then pumps into a tap in the console.
So, is this just a gimmick or something that could make a real difference to grey nomads and other travellers in potentially sticky situations in remote and steamy locations?
Well, the proof of the pudding is in the eating and tests showed that a car’s air conditioning system might sweat off a whopping 1.9 litres of water per hour! The experts say that, for adventurers making long drives in regions where clean water is scarce, drivers can bottle the water from their car or even run tainted water from other sources through the system in order to make it drinkable. This, of course, is a potential lifesaver.
The On-the-Go H2O system is still a prototype and a decision is yet to be made on whether it will ever make it to production stage.