Trial to use solar power to make drinking water

Zero Mass Water's solar-powered SOURCE drinking water systems

An Australian-first trial will see drinking water produced directly from the air using solar power.

The Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA) today announced it would provide $420,000 in funding to US-based Zero Mass Water to deploy 150 of its solar-powered SOURCE drinking water systems across multiple locations in Australia.

The $821,500 total project will demonstrate the technology not yet seen in Australia – a product that produces clean, renewable, infrastructure-free drinking water extracted from the air using solar energy.

ARENA CEO Ivor Frischknecht said the SOURCE panels were a unique way of accelerating solar PV innovation in Australia.

“Zero Mass Water’s project will create a product that offers a new application and market opportunity for the solar industry in Australia,” Mr Frischknecht said.

“Using a combination of solar PV with solar thermal technology, SOURCE’s ability to create clean drinking water could be utilised to achieve positive solutions around water supply.

“The potential benefits of this technology to the environment are important.

“This pilot project can produce reliable drought-resistant water sources to remote communities while simultaneously reducing the amount of plastic bottles that end up in landfill.”

The hydropanels are infrastructure-free with no external electricity or water required for operation.

Instead of filtering or distributing mains water, the system produces pure water by harnessing the power of the sun and the moisture in the air.

The hydropanels can produce up to 5 litres of clean drinking water on a typical day, depending on the climate.

Each hydropanel produces enough water to displace over 20,000 plastic water bottles over 15 years.

Under the trial, SOURCE will be rolled out in 150 sites across Australia including Sydney, Adelaide and Perth, as well as regional towns and remote communities.

Zero Mass Water founder and CEO Cody Friesen said the company was thrilled to partner with ARENA and demonstrate its technology in Australia.

“SOURCE hydropanels provide a renewable, infrastructure-free water solution to the driest inhabited continent on earth,” he said.

The pilot phase of the project will also incorporate a third party study to evaluate the environmental impacts of bottled water in Australia.