Innovation That Matters

Rooftop solar kit doubles as water reservoir

Property & Construction

From Mexico, the PhotoFlow harnesses energy from the sun in good weather and collects and filters rainwater in bad weather.

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In developing nations near the equator, the weather comes in extremes — the sun is at its strongest, while rainfall levels are also the highest in the world. At the same time, the same areas are blighted by a lack of electricity and clean drinking water. In order to tackle both of these issues, designers in Mexico have developed the PhotoFlow, a device that harnesses energy from the sun in good weather and collects and filters rainwater in bad weather.

In 2012, the solar energy industry grew by 76 percent in the US and it is becoming the leading light of renewable energy. However, the panels work best in sunny climates and become less effective when bad weather rolls up. Created by design studio NOS, the rooftop-mounted PhotoFlow turns the panels to use when it’s raining by placing them in a ring with a tilt of three degrees. In the sunshine, the tilt enables the panels to absorb solar energy from all angles, regardless of the location of the sun. The collected energy — up to 340 kWh — can then be used to power the home. During rainfall, the tilt catches rain and directs through a filter, before collecting it in the reservoir below, capable of holding up to 400 liters.

Much like France’s Eole Water wind turbines — which condensate and filter the air’s water vapor — the PhotoFlow provides both energy and drinkable water in one, enabling those in need to take advantage of natural resources. NOS is currently hoping to secure funding for the modules before the PhotoFlow is a viable option for the developing world and beyond. Are there other ways to double the practicality of energy harnessing equipment?

Spotted by Murtaza Patel, written by Springwise



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