Using solar power, a single system can produce enough drinking water for two to three people each day, even in desert conditions
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Spotted: Zero Mass Water’s Source hydropanels are using sunlight to absorb water vapour from the air. The project is providing potable water to houses in the Navajo Nation — a Native American territory occupying portions of northeastern Arizona, southeastern Utah, and northwestern New Mexico in the United States.
Founder Cody Friesen, a materials scientist and associate professor at Arizona State University, spent nearly seven years developing the Source Hydropanel. Using solar power, a single system can produce enough drinking water for two to three people each day, even in desert conditions.
About 40 per cent of households in the Navajo Nation live without running water. Many have to drive miles away to buy all the water they need for cooking, drinking, cleaning and livestock. The Navajo Nation has had the highest COVID-19 infection rate per capita in the U.S. multiple times. The situation has been worsened by the fact that water isn’t easily accessible for residents to wash their hands.
Zero Mass Water first started communicating with local Navajo governments about three years ago. However, the need for a partnership was heightened by the pandemic. This also led to a partnership with Navajo Power, a public benefit corporation working to install solar on tribal lands.
The initial demonstration project provided a total of 30 panels across 15 homes. These initial panels have been funded by Barclays and the socially-minded startup accelerator Unreasonable Group. The panels, which are positioned on the ground and pull moisture from the air, connect to a tap inside the home and can provide up to 10 litres of water on a daily basis, with no cost to the family. Each panel can store 30 litres of water for when cloud cover may affect production. The panels last for 15 years.
Written By: Katrina Lane