Extracting Water from the Air

By Deane Barker on September 30, 2006

Air alchemy: Can humidity solve post hurricane drinking water problem?: This is a brilliant idea. Think of how much water they could have made from the muggy air in New Orleans.

As emergency officials ponder how to better help their residents after disasters, some companies are pushing machines that pull the humidity from the air and turn it into drinking water. A few are also touting the machines as a potential solution to the clean water shortages that plague the Third World, pushing aside concerns that the machines are inefficient and require fuel that also might be scarce.

The biggest machines can make up to 5,000 liters of water a day, enough to provide about a gallon to 1,250 people. Small units cost several hundred dollars, while the biggest, most elaborate cost half a million.