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Solar powered clean drinking water maker trialled

Main image: The solar powered water makers are being trialed at homes and farms in remote communities.

A solar-powered device that creates clean drinking water from the air is being trialled in Australia.

The portable Source Hydropanels, created by Zero Mass Water, are designed to suck moisture from the air, dehumidifying it to drain the water out before it purifies and adds minerals to the water. It is powered solely by attached solar arrays.

Depending on the climate, the hydropanels can create up to five litres of potable water a day.

The Australian Renewable Energy Agency is providing around $420,000 in funding to help deploy 150 of the solar-powered drinking water systems across Australia to trial its ability to act as a source of water for drought-stricken regions as well as reducing waste caused by plastic water bottles.

“This pilot project can produce reliable drought-resistant water sources to remote communities while simultaneously reducing the number of plastic bottles that end up in a landfill,” ARENA chief executive Ivor Frischknecht said.

It is understood that the panels produce enough water to displace more than 20,000 plastic water bottles over their 15-year lifespan.

“The project will demonstrate the technology not yet seen in Australia – a product that produces clean, renewable, infrastructure-free drinking water extracted from the air using solar energy,” ARENA said.

Zero Mass Water vice president Rob Bartrop said the standalone design worked well for Australia.

“It’s a really good fit for Australia as it needs no additional infrastructure to operate so it overcomes a lot problems with remote operations,” he told Fairfax Media.

The trial will roll out the hydropanels in Sydney, Adelaide and Perth as well as regional towns and remote communities.

The pilot phase of the project will also include a third-party study to investigate the environmental impacts of bottled water in Australia.

“Zero Mass Water’s project will create a product that offers a new application and market opportunity for the solar industry in Australia,” Mr Frischknecht said.

“Using a combination of solar photovoltaics with solar thermal technology, Source’s ability to create clean drinking water could be utilised to achieve positive solutions around water supply. The potential benefits of this technology to the environment are important.”

The panels are relatively small, measuring 1.2 metres by 2.4 metres. Each panel is capable of holding 30 litres of water in a reservoir, with standard arrays of two panels capable of holding double this amount.

The water produced by these panels has been tested to Australian drinking water contaminant guidelines.

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