We have discovered the missing puzzle piece to build a new kind of water well!

Sunshine, gravity and air – three natural things that are free to everyone. We are applying these elements to their maximum potential (together in a unique way) to contribute to the solution of the earth’s main problem: fresh, clean water availability

A project of waterfalls to help fill world water supplies.

How it works: We use a bit of water to produce (much) more water through condensation. A condensation surface is no longer needed. The process is done through cooling down a small cascade of water below dew point, and then with gravity, the surrounding air is drawn into the water that is falling. The cascade cools the outside air down and the moisture is instantly condensed against the falling drops of water!

Solar panels are inexpensive, as is the cooler unit used in the project. This unit generates cold during the day and stores it in mass volumes. It takes only a small amount of energy to circulate the water during the evening, the night and the early morning. This is far more effective in generating water because it is not necessary to cool the water as much as needed during a hot day. In addition, if there is energy available, these highly-efficient machines can run as well during an entire day. This tested innovative technology works even efficient at temperatures above 50 Celcius. (122 F)

Our project features:
– Generation of potable water from surrounding air
– Inexpensive drinking water for anyone everywhere on the planet
– Breakthrough technology applying natural elements as never before
– Realizing possibilities of agriculture production in desert areas

This truly innovative technology is based on simple natural concepts, so machines can be made relatively inexpensively.

The board of DCHI (Dutch Coalition for Humanitarian Innovation) expressed its support and commitment to jointly explore the value of SunGlacier in the humanitarian context. ( See the letter of support. ) DCHI consists of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the Ministry of Defense, the Municipality of The Hague, the Netherlands Red Cross, CARE Netherlands, UNICEF Netherlands, and VNO-NCW.

The project will be presented to the public on 7 September 2017 at the Making Waves event in the Netherlands with Kofi Anan, former UN Secretary General, and General Tom Middendorp, Dutch Chief of Defence.

 

SunGlacier in “Making Waves” finals

Making Waves provides a podium “for showcasing the most intriguing examples of Dutch ingenuity”. The event supports innovative ideas to get past the ‘promising stage’. Making Waves serves as the grand finale in the selection process for the innovation that will represent the Netherlands at the European level of “Ideas from Europe”.

Keynotes by Kofi Annan, former Secretary General of the United Nations, and Tom Middendorp, Chief of Dutch Defence, will set the scene and make us realise that it’s time to act and turn plans into action.

 

We did it!

The Dutch Ministry of Defense invited the SunGlacier team to Mali, where we are able to test our idea – making water out of thin air – in the middle of the Sahara desert, the driest, hottest place on earth. It was a success! With our SunGlacier project, we demonstrate that it is possible to harvest water from air, using only solar energy – making SunGlacier probably the world’s first artificial water well to work entirely off the grid.

Before we left, we knew our design worked in ideal conditions; now – after a punishing week in the Sahara — we know we can make it work almost anywhere.

The underlying principle is simple:

When you grab a can soda out of the fridge on a hot summer day, small water drops appear on the surface. This is how we make SunGlacier work: condensation.

  • During the Dutch summer, these droplets start appearing when the can is approximately 15 degrees colder than the outside temperature.
  • But in Mali, which is much, much dryer – typical air on a Mali summer’s day holds roughly half the water vapor than the air on a dry hot day in the Netherlands – you need a 50-degree-difference in temperature to see those droplets.

So, making water out of thin air, using a 12Volts, 50Watt system, in the driest conditions is a huge challenge.

Inspired by Moon Landers, we built the “Desert Twins” especially for this occasion. One of them is the water maker, which runs with the same power as a small car light, the other one contains our energy unit, which stores the solar power.

The first three days of testing were frustrating; our own sweat was the only liquid produced.

Despite the fact that during the course day the water maker was located in the shadow of the solar panel, the unit was still too hot to function. We soon realized that solar radiation reflecting off the surrounding sand was to blame. Our solution was to add a layer of insulation outside and inside of the box.

Next we discovered that by burying a cooling pipe 2 meters under ground – where it is 4 degrees less hot — we could air cool our apparatus in the punishing heat. Unfortunately, the advantage was short-lived: given the insulating properties of desert sand, we soon had heated the sand around the pipe, and the temperature differential dwindled down to nothing.

So to further protect the apparatus from solar radiation – the unit was still too hot — we decided to build a tent around the water unit. But, still no water.

At some point the motor of our condenser started to overheat and make strange noises – the first signs of a total collapse. We re-configured our cooling air streams inside the machine. The noise didn’t stop, but the temperature inside the box decreased. Our morale improved.

Finally, on the fourth day, we succeeded in cooling the ambient air inside the box to such an extent that condensation could take place and something other than steam was possible. We opened the box, removed the insulation and saw, for the first time, actual liquid water. We had finally succeeded!

But the desert air was so thirsty that we witnessed a new phenomenon: upon opening the SunGlacier our water and ice evaporated so fast, that within 10 minutes everything disappeared. We had just enough time to document our success on photo and video.

On day 5 we produced even more water and ice – the extremely dense ice was harder than a rock.

We had succeeded in harvesting water in very harsh conditions, drawing about the same current as is needed to run a standard car headlight.

We learned so much in the desert. When we build a next model, our design will be even better. Our next priorities are: water storage and cleaning and enriching the water with minerals and salts.

The aim is to build a machine that works like a well – one that doesn’t need a liquid water source or electricity to operate.

But the real challenge now is finding a way to share our success – and our know-how – with the world.