Fantastic! Just what California needs!
“We started this company to provide water to everyone, everywhere,” says Cody Friesen, CEO of Zero Mass Water, the startup making the new solar panel, called Source.
The startup created a material that passively absorbs water from the air. It’s a hyper-efficient, fast version of what happens if you leave a bowl of sugar open and it starts to clump from moisture. Then the solar panel powers a process that drives the water back out. The water is evaporated to purify it, removing pollutants.
“Basically everybody who runs an air conditioner makes water from air,” says Friesen. “That part’s not the magic part. We do that really, really efficiently, independent of infrastructure. We do that in a way that what you have as a result is essentially double distilled water. Ultra pure water.”
After the water is purified, it’s run through a mineral block to add calcium and magnesium and improve the taste. The result is water that can help eliminate disease. Having water at home also saves time; women in sub-Saharan Africa spend an estimated 40 billion hours a year collecting water.
A single panel can provide drinking and cooking water for a family of four, and businesses or hospitals can scale up with multiple panels.
The company has installed panels in pilot programs in Ecuador, Jordan, Mexico, and the U.S., and will install in more countries over the next few weeks. In 2017, they plan to scale up to larger systems.