Atmospheric Water Recovery for Desert Areas

By: nunitak

Oct 28 2009


Category: Water


Desert photo credit:

Canyons are subject to periodic raging torrents, pushing rocks that will break your ankles and carry a house or camper away.

Time for Some Campaignin’ — November again! ♪ ♫ video

Japan wins solar power car race

— apparently, each person actually did maximum best work for the details assigned, and then the details added up to victory.

More plus video

“Water, water, everywhere, And all the boards did shrink; Water, water, everywhere, Nor any drop to drink.”


Jiangxi Water Shortage

Water Shortages in Caracas

India Water Shortage

Cholera kills 29 as Kenya Water Shortage bites

Water for People — NGO for Local Water Project Assistance

Water problems and inequities in Bolivia
— nothing like having your own water!

This blog is about developing the atmospheric water source. Bechtel was too expensive for one place in Bolivia. How about DIY and small group atmospheric water developments. Tapping into green energy for help.

El Niño, La Niña, and Rainfall — the big picture



Developing Water Crisis Needs Action Now

Gaza desalination plant and
West Bank Palestinian Water Stuff

The Water Crisis in Gaza

The Water Crisis in West Bank

The Palestinian Water Authority

Tropospheric Water — Water from Air

Water from Air

Clean Water Appears Out of Thin Air with EcoloBlue

Making Water From Thin Air

Drinking Water From Air Humidity ***

— desert humidity averages 64% in Middle East

This method operates totally by solar powered electricity (only for control and brine movement), and MAINLY, solar collectors for heating the brine

Atmospheric Water Generation

13 quarts fresh water every day from one small machine

For Hospitals


Burj Dubai Condensate Collection System

Atmospheric Water Generator — Wikipedia

Atmospheric water vapour processor designs — for potable water production: a review

Solar Atmospheric Water Harvester

WaterMicron Tower is a Luxury 5 to 6 Star Hotel

Water generation purely from air

Cooling Tower Stuff — included here because some ideas are adaptable

Fog Fences and Air Wells — report of use by Byzantines, wonderful article by Robert A. Nelson.

Nunitak thinks there should be a competition:

Whoever makes the best Model Air Well will receive 2011 Award for Air Well Technology

Requirements: Two categories — (1) Entirely Passive, or (2) PV and/or otherwise assisted, renewable energy only.

Height limitation for model is 15 meters, Furthest reaches of apparatus fall within base area not exceeding 225 M^2. Roof location is okay, only the height of the device itself is restricted. It may be partly buried too, but the buried part counts as part of height. Storage tank, above or below ground, is considered part of the apparatus and must be located within the base area.

Judging criteria: Simplicity of materials and construction as well as least cost versus water output. Smaller is better assessment for inclusion in home construction or within the premises of typically-sized home property, such as a back yard or garden. Water purity: sufficient for gardening — this is not about processing water for potabilty, it is about recovering the atmospheric water.

Suggested deadline: Report your findings and technique by August 31, 2011. This gives plenty of time for maximizing your process.

Maybe some engineering school would serve as judge, for each of the two categories. Something like that.

I would hope someone donates a large pool of prize money and the winners make their apparatus design available freely. This will help people around the world.

Nunitak will get it started, okay? The question mark in black is where I need some help, at top of the stainless steel. Maybe insulated on inside, all the way or what? The chimney lip should be level with outer container lip? The asterisk is possible place for PV panels. PV panels might serve as rain collection collar too. Wiring to thermoelectrics not shown. Don’t forget that we need some very big passive ones too. See, it’s easy! You work on it. Do it NAOUGHW!!!

Note: for both of Nunitak’s AWG machines, the incoming air enters through a ring duct with bottom perforations — non-metallic, obviously. This is not shown. The ring surrounds the central pillar, about midway to the inner container wall.

Click here for Nunitak Air Well picture…
Anyone is welcome to use my design for helping others where needed. It needs a mosquito & bug screen at the top, yes? Spikey anti-bird fixture too… We can use filter for making water potable on the way to the tank. The spokes should spiral clockwise here and counterclockwise south of the equator.

Nunitak will include a schematic of his 30 foot Passive Atmospheric Water Condenser in a later blog entry here. This type is WIDE at the bottom, narrows as it goes up and has a glass top. 15 ft underground, 30 ft above, okay? The core fixture, with much the same element repeated, while tapering more narrow in width with height, has holes in the core elements which spiral clockwise south of the equator, counterclockwise north of the equator. There is an insulation ring in the central stainless steel pillar just below where the glass begins. The condensation elements are inverted stainless steel bowls, and one third of the central pillar is buried. Needs steel pedestal on subterranean concrete for stability. Flanges are added to central pillar for each higher bowl during construction. Water pours into the ground level base before going to underground reservoir. One bowl per foot, I guess, and the last three feet are glass enclosed, except for the top aperture.

I have decided to add a stainless steel upside down funnel, within the glass enclosure at the top. The bowl beneath that is right side up and both the funnel and that bowl are black teflon coated. A tower collar just where the glass starts can reflect solar heat into the glass enclosure, but only if needed for faster air flow (no fan). The diagram will clear this up. The glass enclosure and interior elements balloon out, but the funnel snout (up) is the same diameter as the containing tower, inside diameter, just below the glass. The funnel is connected to the last bowl, which is connected to the top of the stainless steel pillar. The insulating ring breaks the pillar into two lengths, short top part and long bottom part. The glass enclosure will have to consist of two pieces, one or the other having a flange that fits over the edge of the other piece.

The insulating outer container and the glass top are a later phase of construction. Best location is on a hill top, also facilitating water distribution by gravity. It will look somewhat like a misbegotten lighthouse, but good looking for a water tower. 0.5 inch clearance bowl edges to container wall, I guess. Does that sound right? Lots of work to set up, but very permanent with low maintenance. Provision for adjustable bottom air entry during prototype testing. Bug screens, bird deterrence, but mainly for farming, bath and livestock water.

A short one like this may need high humidity. If it does not work you could always add freezer coils at about 10–12 ft level of the interior metal walls and make it active, using wind power and/or solar power. That would make lots of water. Venezuela should work on water towers like this I think. They have both means and high humidity.

The development process involves optimizing air flows to accomodate maximum water output in the predominating range of local atmospheric conditions at the installation site. This can be done by fan speed and/or by adjusting air intake and output ports. Optimization charts should be developed to allow for periodic adjustments where maximum output is desired. The opaque exterior insulating container sufaces could be wrapped with reflective Mylar or have some coating with the same effect.

Finally, these Atmospheric Water Wells could be made self-adjusting to maximize water output at all times by means of the appropriate electronic sensors controlling apertures and/or fan speeds.

There will likely be some Mega-Size Atmospheric Water Wells in the future. They might be self-priming by means of a cold misty spray near the top of the containing tower — well below the glass for mine Pyrex? Air travels along both inside and outside of the funnel, as well as the bowl underneath.

My prototypes both need testing and adjustments based on that; best I can do ‘on paper’ here. I put enough here to get technical people thinking. Some nation like Brazil or India needs to work on big passive types. This work is not likely to be done in the USA because they are not so much needed here and only projects involving lots of money in some way are allowed as you can see from air-to-water machine prices. Even most of those are not green per se. India prices would be affordable by those needing air water wells. My passive AWG based on the Big Low idea, self-contained, with the High Pressure Front at the tower bottom. Who knows, it might work or maybe someone can adjust it? I thought about water dripping in caves too.

Atmospheric Water Generation is something which needs to be done for sure. It will be sorely needed in ten or twenty years and is already needed now in many places.

Multiple resource aggregator for Atmospheric Water

Examples of Current Air-to-Water Machines, generally around 1kW

AWG Atmospheric Water Generator aggregator

Drinking water only machine — based on dehumidfier?
— dispenses hot or cold water

25-35 gallons per day water machines

Water for yachts discussion— interesting discussion

Pricey water-from-air machine — page has very good info on world water problem

Glossary for Water People


Peel & Stick Solar PV Panels — 2.25 kw in 34 minutes
— Howsabout that! Pretty close to our 3 kW…

Importance of protective eyewear (so you do not go blind from your work)

Basic Solar PV Panel Familiarization Demo

California Gold Rush 2009

Pioneer Park, Soldotna, AK
— photo

Do bears wander about there? I dunno, ask them….

One more musical bird please:

Grooving Cockatoo — ♪ ♫ video


4 comments on “Atmospheric Water Recovery for Desert Areas”

  1. good day !!! Great Idea , I have myself being thinking, researching and trying to build such divice the one thing that call most my attention is your referal to Venezuela I happen to be living in Venezuela in an area that lacks water distribution with temperature around 18-25 C Relative Humidity of 60 to 90+% making it ideal location for water harvesting .I ammust interested in water recovery for irrigation and future purification, cost of electricity is almost none ( rural area) but water cisterns carry by trucks very very expensive . I will like very much to help you so I can help myself and many others.Please do contact me ASAP

  2. Allah {God} will soon liberate his children everywhere and save the planet. There will be the Best Guidance for 1000 years. But we have been informed conditions would worsen greatly prior to the rescue. The hearts of good people everywhere are with the Egyptians in their struggle with tyranny. Allah will hear the voice of hearts in prayer and sees our sufferings. Long, long ago Enoch was informed of this coming event. Before Islam, before Christianity, before Judaism, before Abraham. I have no doubts this will come to pass and the earth shall rest, the children shall be happy. The time is close.

  3. Great article, great project. Stumbled over it mid 2010 and keep coming back.
    In Bahrain, a small island with to much humidity and loads of sun for at least 10 months a year a solar water generator is my dream. Would really like to exchange with anybody working on this.

  4. Hello,
    Just wanted to introduce myself.. Im Sean… glad to be here! Does anyone have any recommendations / advice on using this site?

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: