A Valley company is using solar panels to pull water out of thin air.
Zero Mass Water’s headquarters and manufacturing plant are in Scottsdale. In front of their building, vice president Sidnee Peck explained how their special technology works within Source, the name of their all-in-one product.
“What the PV (photovoltaic cells) does is it powers fans that pull air into this portion of the Source,” she said. “These two outside panels, solar thermal, heat that air up. Then as it cools to ambient temperature, that’s when the water turns into liquid form. It then goes into the reservoir here in the bottom where 30 liters of water can be stored.”
The patented technology inside only latches onto pure water molecules, filtering out particulates and sending pollution and other impurities back into the air.
“And then we plumb [the water] right into a family’s home, right into the back of a refrigerator, the RO tap at their sink,” Peck said.
Depending on the atmosphere around the panel, each one can produce 3-5 liters of water per day. Think of a family getting the equivalent of a case of water produced every couple days, through a water supply they own in its entirety.
Each Source has two-panel sections that cost $2,000 each, so with installation costs, you’d be looking at about $4,500 to get one put on your roof. For someone who regularly buys bottled water, your Source could pay itself off in two or three years.
Some people wonder whether Source is sucking Arizona’s desert air even drier, and potentially setting up long-term changes in weather patterns. Zero Mass Water scientists already looked into that.
“We would have to cover the earth twice in panels before we would make enough of an impact on the atmosphere to have any impact on the weather cycles or anything else,” Peck said.
She also explained that everyday activity, like driving cars, puts water back into the air anyway.
The product is especially important to countries where poverty and drought have created water crises. Zero Mass Water recently placed field crews in South Africa and India, bringing its global reach to 12 countries on five continents.