Whisson Windmills To Water Australia Like Vaporators?

Dr. Max Whisson thinks he has a way to bring water to Australia's parched land - windmills that pull water out of the air.

Water is a big problem for Australia. Queensland State's governor Peter Beattie has announced that falling dam levels have left him no choice but to introduce recycled water into the state's southeast. Australian farms and cities are suffering under the worst drought in a century.

Whisson's design consists of a number of blades arranged vertically, accepting wind from any direction. The process is a closely guarded secret, but the device manages to cool the air as it passes - pulling water out by condensation.

Frankly, I'm skeptical of a story that has so little substance to it. However, Whisson does have a history as an inventor; he suggested the idea of long evaporation channels in 2002. The basic idea is that seawater would be channeled inland under a transparent cover. As the water evaporated, it could be diverted to storage tanks. The channels would be U-shaped, letting the remaining water (and salt) flow back into the sea.

Update 01-Feb-2007: Here's a bit more from ABC Canberra, who quotes Whisson as saying:

"Well it's an idea that gradually evolved, I suppose over the last three-years or so. The windmill is part of the system, but essentially it's an arrangement whereby wind blows into a chamber and the wind has two things: it has energy and it has water in it and the system just condenses the water."
I also had a comment from Matt, who remarked on the Hilsch vortex tube method of refrigeration; as far as I know, it requires pressurized air to work, and I'm not sure if a ten mile per hour breeze could provide the necessary pressure. End

If Max Whisson really does have a windmill that pulls water right out of the air without additional electricity, he may just have invented the moisture vaporator. Widely used in the deserts of the fictional world of Tatooine, it makes farming work where it would ordinarily fail.

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...
(Read more about Star Wars vaporators)

Since pictures of Max Whisson's windmill evaporator are not available, I'll provide a picture of the fictional vaporator. Let's hope Whisson's vaporator isn't just fiction.


(Moisture Vaporator from Star Wars)

Frank Herbert's Dune books also introduce water recovery technologies; some of them have real-world analogues:

Update 30-Jan-2007: This has to be a record for fastest time to update an article. Okay, I considered using the windtrap from Frank Herbert's Dune for this article. It does predate the Star Wars reference (Dune was published in 1965 [serialized in Analog starting in 1963]). However, the windtrap is apparently a static device very similar to simple technologies already common in the Middle East for centuries (see the references provided by readers, as well as a picture of an Iranian windtrap, in the comments on Herbert's windtraps). Maybe I'm wrong to reference the vaporator here. Chime in below if so moved. End update

Read almost nothing more at The Australian; here's the Australia Queensland recycled water story. This pdf gives you a bit more on Max Whisson's 2002 water recovery plan.

Scroll down for more stories in the same category. (Story submitted 1/30/2007)

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