When water is scarce, why not pull it out of thin air? An industrial designer in Austria is hoping to do just that (well, sort of).
In a lot of place around the world, water is not really a luxury, so when in shortage, why not make it yourself? Kristof Retezár a designer in Vienna has put his idea forward with his new gadget.
His new device can extract humidity from the air and condense it to water. The device named Fontus can be attached to a cyclist’s bike and can generate water during long distances.
Fontus works using condensation,
"This is simply condensation of the humidity that is contained in the air," Retezár told Live Science.
"You always have a certain percentage of humidity in the air, it doesn't matter where you are — even in the desert. That means you would always potentially be able to extract that humidity from the air."
The device is solar powered and consists of a condensator that is connected to a series of hydrophobic surfaced. So as the Fontus takes in air and the surface is cold, there is condensation, Retezár said.
"Because they're hydrophobic, they immediately repel the condensed water that they created, so you get a drop flow [into the bottle]," he explained.
"Basically, you're taking air in a vapour state and converting it into a liquid state."
The prototype includes a filter at the top to keep harmful contaminates from the water, but does not have a filter to remove other harmful contaminants.
Fontus is able to produce 0.5 litres of water in one hour in “really good” conditions” in temperatures between 30-40 degrees, and between 80-90 percent humidity.
"The water you get is clean, unless the air is really contaminated," Retezár said.
"We're thinking about making a bottle that also has a carbon filter, and this one would be for cities or areas where you might think the air is contaminated. But originally, this water bottle was thought to be used in nature, and places where you wouldn't have contaminated air."
Retezár has also been working on another version that sucks in air, rather than relying on an air stream. This new device could be utilised in regions where water is scarce but humidity is high.
"The idea was to solve a global problem: water issues in areas of the world where there is very little groundwater but very high humidity," Retezár said.
"My intent was to invent a machine or device that would be able to filter the humidity in the air and turn it into drinkable water."
The initial Fontus design was shortlisted for the 2014 James Dyson Award, which helped Retezár gain exposure for the project, he said.
Since then, he has received funding from the Austrian government that will help cover the technical development phase.
He is also aiming to launch a crowd funding campaign in March to cover the cost of mass-production.
Retezár said he is aiming to keep the retail price for the Fontus under $100, and if all goes well, the self-filling bottles could be commercially available in about nine or 10 months.