It’s a tale as old as time … or at least it feels like it sometimes.
Self-contained grey nomads are all set up and ready for an extended stay camping in the bush but, sooner or later, they run into a water problem.
No matter how well equipped they are or how big their tanks are, there is a limit to how much H2O that can be carried.
So, if you’re camping in the dry and dusty Outback, the clock is ticking on your stay as soon as you arrive.
Or maybe not. The technology that extracts water from the air has been coming on in leaps and bounds in recent years and it might just be finding its way into an RV near you very soon.
Israeli atmospheric water generator company, Watergen, has long focussed its energies on larger installations to supply water to communities and households, but now it’s shrinking its water-harvesting tech to enable it to be used by off-grid travellers. The result is the ‘Mobile Box. Which looks something like a traditional portable generator.
The device can basically plugged into a power outlet and it sucks air through a fan, runs it through a filtration system, and then to a patented heat exchanger which extracts Page 9 water out through condensation. It then processes it through a multi-level filtration system that includes UV light, and stores it in a reservoir.
Thirsty grey nomads can then pour the water through the tap or remove the entire storage container. Watergen says the Mobile Box, which weighs 15kg when empty, can produce up to 20 litres of water per day.
With caravanners and motorhomers in mind, it has also developed a more streamlined ‘On Board’ version, which puts the main heat exchanger unit on the roof of the vehicle, where it sits much like an air conditioner.
This system can produce up to 50 litres of drinking water a day. Okay, the big question is how much power this whole operation will suck up. Watergen lists average power consumption of its Mobile Box version at 350 watts, peak consumption at 480 watts, and noise level at less than or equal to 52 dBA.
If that doesn’t suit, you may not actually have to wait too much longer for a solar-powered equivalent. US scientists at MIT and the University of Berkeley have created a device, powered just by solar energy, capable of retrieving water from atmospheric humidity.
It can apparently retrieve up to three litres of liquid water per 12 hours even in locations with extremely dry atmospheres. The solar system is currently just a prototype, but Watergen plans to bring its first mobile water-harvesting products to market next year.
No word yet on likely pricing. Exciting times!