You're literally drinking in the atmosphere.
Atmospheric Water Systems (AWS) has devised a drinking water system for homes and offices that extracts water from the ambient air and then purifies it for drinking. You know how moisture condenses on air conditioning coils? The same principles are at work here. Dew collects onto refrigerated coils and then drips into a reservoir for purification and filtration.
The company's Dewpointe units can extract three to eight gallons worth of dew drops a day. Larger units will soon be available.
"It is this close to being distilled," says Stephen Krauss, vice president of sales and marketing. "The coffee is unbelievable."
It passed the taste test quite well. The water was nicely chilled and didn't have any mineral or metallic flavor to it.
The idea is to give consumers an alternative to faucet filtration systems and the unwieldy plastic jug water dispensers. Plus, Dewpointe is arguably more ecologically friendly because it cuts down reliance on municipal water systems, which are facing shortages, leaky pipes, chronic problems with excessive runoff and infrastructure headaches. The units consume about 9 to 10 kilowatt hours a day in electricity, but water from the tap takes energy too. An estimated 5 percent to 6 percent of all of the power consumed in California revolves around moving and transporting water. (If you add heating, water consumes 19 percent of the power in the state.)
Dewpointe also marks another early move toward the growing, and likely inevitable, trend toward water recycling. Singapore has already taken steps toward water recycling with its NEWater program, which purifies wastewater and re-circulates it back into the system for human consumption. Mark Shannon, a professor at the University of Illinois, meanwhile, is working on a device that extracts reuseable water, minerals and methane from human waste streams.
Some companies have already begun selling systems that let consumers take gray water from their showers to water the garden.
Dewpointe doesn't go to these extremes, but it's recycling nonetheless because a large portion of the water in the household atmosphere comes from human activities such as cooking or showering.
"The best place [for installing a unit] is the bathroom," Krauss said. "You can also put one in the kitchen or laundry room."
But, he adds, your water won't taste like All-Tempa-Cheer. Before humans can drink it, the water gets passed through a UV light purification stage, a carbon filter and a reverse osmosis filter. This removes minerals as well as airborne contaminants.
Dewpointe won't work in dry environments like Phoenix, Arizona, he added. Consumers need to live in areas that are 40 to 45 percent humid or more. San Francisco has a relative humidity of 60 percent, he said.
A basic system, which started selling in June, costs $1,600. Leasing programs are available.