Negev Moisture 'Vaporators Planned W/ Solar Power

Moisture 'vaporators would be just the thing for Israel's Negev desert. There are no lakes, no rivers and no groundwater. The air, on the other hand, has an average relative humidity of 64%.

“The process we have developed is based exclusively on renewable energy sources such as thermal solar collectors and photovoltaic cells, which makes this method completely energy-autonomous. It will therefore function in regions where there is no electrical infrastructure,” says Siegfried Egner, head of department at the Fraunhofer Institute for Interfacial Engineering and Biotechnology IGB.

The principle of the process is as follows: hygroscopic brine – saline solution which absorbs moisture – runs down a tower-shaped unit and absorbs water from the air. It is then sucked into a tank a few meters off the ground in which a vacuum prevails. Energy from solar collectors heats up the brine, which is diluted by the water it has absorbed.

The boiling point of the liquid is lower (not being under atmospheric pressure). The evaporated, non-saline water is condensed and runs down through a completely filled tube in a controlled manner.


(Solar-powered Negev moisture 'vaporators)

Prototypes already prove the concepts; the next step is to build a demonstration facility.

Star Wars fans of course remember the moisture vaporators from the very first movie in the series; this quote is from the novelization of the movie by George Lucas (1976):

Despite the glare, life could and did exist in the flatlands formed by long-evaporated sea beds. One thing made it possible: the reintroduction of water.

For human purposes, however, the water of Tatooine was only marginally accessible. The atmosphere yielded its moisture with reluctance. It had to be coaxed down out of the hard blue sky -- coaxed, forced, yanked down to the parched surface.

Luke Skywalker was twice the age of the 10-year-old vaporator, but much less secure. At the moment he was swearing softly at a recalcitrant valve adjuster on the temperamental device.

Via Science Daily; thanks to Vik Oliver for the tip on this story.

Scroll down for more stories in the same category. (Story submitted 6/10/2009)

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