Hot Topic: Are Hydropanels The Solution To The Global Water Crisis?
As we all know by now, of course, the climate crisis is very real and the effects of climate change and rising global temperatures are being felt the whole world over.
Experts say that if we are able to resolve the water crisis, however, it would help to resolve the other issues facing the planet in terms of climate change and its effects… and scientists everywhere are now looking into how best to go about finding a solution to water stress and scarcity, which is certainly heartening news to hear.
Part of the problem where water is concerned, however, is that different regions around the world face different issues, so there’s no one-size-fits-all approach that can be adopted, which means it becomes necessary to find a wide range of different solutions that can then be employed where appropriate.
One potential solution is the use of hydropanels, which are able to harvest clean drinking water from the atmosphere using solar power and thermodynamics principles to tap into the supply of water vapour contained therein, capturing water molecules and condensing them into liquid water.
Solutions such as this will become increasingly important as climate change drives more frequent and intense extreme weather events.
The world will see more droughts, which will dry up groundwater and rivers, while floods and hurricanes will contaminate the existing water supply. Glaciers are also now melting at record speeds, depleting the number of freshwater resources available. World Health
Organisation figures show that over two billion people in the world already lack access to safe drinking water and this issue is only going to be exacerbated by climate change and weather-related disasters.
But hydropanels, such as those currently in use by SOURCE (previously known as Zero Mass Water), could prove particularly useful in solving the water crisis.
The pure water collected, which is free from pollution, is filtered and mineralised to provide electrolytes for hydration, as well as improving the quality and taste. It is then stored in a reservoir attached to the hydropanels and sent through to the taps.
The company has already installed its hydropanels in over 50 countries worldwide, Palatinate reports, serving worksites, hospitals, schools, domestic properties and even entire communities.
Each panel is capable of producing three to five litres of clean water a day entirely offgrid, which could prove particularly beneficial for remote communities suffering acutely from the water crisis.
In Kenya’s Rift Valley, for example, the installation of these hydropanels means that young girls no longer have to undertake long perilous journeys to fetch water. And the indigenous community of Bahia Hondita in Columbia is now making use of 149 hydropanels to produce 22,000 litres of water a month.
Other benefits of these hydropanels include the fact that they can provide safe drinking water even in the face of extreme weather events like floods, earthquakes and hurricanes. They’re also eco-friendly, making use of renewable energy and also driving down waste from single-use plastic bottles.
However, the technology has drawn criticism from some quarters, with some experts believing it to be more productive to collect rainwater and use water filters instead. And, although they’re able to function in low-humidity environments such as the Arizona desert, performance is highly dependent on sunlight and humidity levels.
This means that water production slows in low humidity or when there’s severe cloud cover, with the panels producing as little as two litres per panel each day – rather problematic given that a single person requires around 50 litres of water a day to meet basic needs.
What other innovative solutions exist?
As previously mentioned, there is no single solution to the water crisis – but, luckily, all sorts of innovative technology now exists that can be employed to address the situation worldwide.
Desalination, for example, has long been suggested as one possible solution but it is still an energy-intensive process. Instead, scientists have been looking into various alternatives, such as those at the University of Manchester who have designed a graphite oxide sieve that can retain the salts in seawater, so only water passes through.
This sieve can be scaled to any size and with any pore diameter specifications, so it can allow for the filtration of any contaminants found in the water.
And then, of course, there’s wastewater recycling, which is proving to be increasingly popular as an option at the moment. We recently blogged about this and how biogas could be the future for the water sector, helping water and wastewater utilities reduce their energy consumption – which represents around 3.7 per cent of global annual energy.
Converting waste into energy (a process that occurs naturally) is known as anaerobic digestion – and the use of anaerobic digesters has been around since the Victorian times, developed to prevent the buildup of sewage and stop diseases from spreading. Now, water suppliers around the UK are increasingly turning to this technology for green power generation.
What can businesses do to reduce their water footprint?
There’s a lot that businesses, irrespective of size or industry, can do to reduce their water footprint and help conserve precious resources for future generations.
Options include rainwater harvesting, so this can be used in place of mains water supplies, prioritising water leak detection and repair, having automated meter readings fitted to track usage and consumption, and even switching water supplier.
This latter option can be a very effective place to begin, since it involves having a water audit of your site carried out so you can identify how you’re using water and where, allowing you to come up with strategies to save water, which can be adjusted over time.
Benefits of switching also include improved customer service, better rates with a different supplier and being able to take advantage of a working relationship with a supplier that has experience of working within your particular business sector.
If you’d like to find out more about business water suppliers in the UK, get in touch with the SwitchWaterSupplier.com team today.