Skip to main content
Part of complete coverage on

Wind turbine creates water from thin air

By Eoghan Macguire, for CNN
April 30, 2012 -- Updated 1009 GMT (1809 HKT)
The turbine can produce up to 1,000 liters of drinking water every day, according to Eole Water. The turbine can produce up to 1,000 liters of drinking water every day, according to Eole Water.
HIDE CAPTION
Water from thin air
The Eole Water Turbine
Self sufficient villages
Technological specifications
Purification process
<<
<
1
2
3
4
5
>
>>
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Makers of a wind turbine claim it can generate power and water from humid air
  • Developers hope the device will bring water to rural communities in arid countries
  • The technology could be adapted to meet the needs of small cities in the future, say manufacturers

(CNN) -- Wind turbines have long produced renewable energy but a French engineering firm has discovered another eco-purpose for the towering structures.

Eole Water claims to have successfully modified the traditional wind turbine design to create the WMS1000, an appliance that can manufacture drinking water from humid air.

The company aims to start rolling out the giant products for sale later in 2012, initially focusing on remote communities in arid countries where water resources are scarce.

"This technology could enable rural areas to become self-sufficient in terms of water supply," says Thibault Janin, director of marketing at Eole Water.

"As the design and capabilities develop, the next step will be to create turbines that can provide water for small cities or areas with denser populations," he adds.

Eole Water is currently displaying a working prototype of the 24 meter tall WMS1000 in the desert near Abu Dhabi that has been able to produce 62 liters of water an hour, says Janin.

See also: Wind powers new energy age

One turbine can produce up to 1,000 liters of water every day, depending on the level of humidity
Thibault Janin

He explains that the technology works by first generating electricity in the traditional manner of a wind turbine. This power enables the entire water generating system to function.

The next stage sees air sucked in through the nose of the turbine via a device known as an "air blower".

All air trapped during this procedure is then directed through an electric cooling compressor situated behind the propellers. This contraption extracts humidity from the air, creating moisture which is condensed and collected.

The water gathered at this stage is then transferred down a series of stainless steel pipes, which have been specially modified to aid the water production process, to a storage tank in the base of the turbine.

Once there, the water is filtered and purified before it is ready for use and consumption.

One turbine can produce up to 1,000 liters of water every day, depending on the level of humidity, temperature and wind speeds, says Janin.

"This is enough to provide water for a village or town of 2,000 to 3,000 people," he adds.

Janin highlights isolated communities in Africa and South America as well as remote islands in Asia that have little or no access to safe drinking water as potential beneficiaries of the technology.

"If you think of Indonesia, it has (thousands of) islands and they cannot centralize their water supply ... the geographic makeup of the country makes it impossible," says Janin.

See also: Can hot air be the free fuel of the future?

"This technique could enable them to overcome these problems and make the islands self-sufficient in a way that doesn't harm the environment."

But while enthusiastic about the potential of his company's technology, Janin admits that the initial costs of the turbines could be prohibitive, especially for poorer towns or regions.

Just now it costs between €500,000 ($660,000) and €600,000 ($790,000) depending on the location and surrounding conditions to install just one Eole Water turbine.

As time progresses and as an industrial process is developed that enables the company to take advantage of economies of scale, this outlay is likely to fall, says Janin.

"We have just started the commercial aspect of this product but the price is not that expensive when you compare it with the long term solution that it gives," he adds.

ADVERTISEMENT
Part of complete coverage on
January 21, 2013 -- Updated 0230 GMT (1030 HKT)
Patricia Wu looks at efforts to combat food waste in Hong Kong.
January 14, 2013 -- Updated 0233 GMT (1033 HKT)
CNN's Pauline Chiou goes to Hong Kong's annual toy fair to find out about the growing market for eco-friendly toys.
December 31, 2012 -- Updated 0415 GMT (1215 HKT)
CNN's Liz Neisloss reports on a roof that is only a sample of the greening of Singapore's skyline.
December 19, 2012 -- Updated 0216 GMT (1016 HKT)
A dam project in Cambodia could destroy livelihoods and ecosystems, says Conservation International
December 18, 2012 -- Updated 0322 GMT (1122 HKT)
Shipping lines, port authorities and technology companies are taking the initiative to go green and reduce costs.
December 10, 2012 -- Updated 0206 GMT (1006 HKT)
Less than 20 miles from Singapore's skyscrapers is a completely different set of high-rise towers.
December 6, 2012 -- Updated 1104 GMT (1904 HKT)
The Pitcairn Islands might only have 55 human inhabitants, but the waters surrounding them are teeming with marine life.
December 3, 2012 -- Updated 0322 GMT (1122 HKT)
Biofuel made from sugar cane waste in Brazil could revolutionize the global energy industry.
November 26, 2012 -- Updated 0258 GMT (1058 HKT)
Many believe that fuel-cell cars will overtake electric vehicles in the near future.
November 19, 2012 -- Updated 0820 GMT (1620 HKT)
Modern and sustainable buildings in the UAE are taking cues from an ancient Arabic design tradition.
November 12, 2012 -- Updated 0409 GMT (1209 HKT)
One man's artistic vision is distracting divers from Cancun's threatened underwater ecosystem.
November 12, 2012 -- Updated 1746 GMT (0146 HKT)
Lake Victoria, Africa's largest lake, has been plagued by water hyacinth plants for over two decades.
A turtle on Australia's Great Barrier Reef
Just how much are natural wonders like the Great Barrier Reef worth in monetary terms?
ADVERTISEMENT