Water Supply – Anywhere there is Electricity

November 27, 2008

Water Supply – Anywhere there is Electricity
~James Dunn


Do NOT attempt to act upon or disseminate any portion of the following unless you read the full content of the Disclaimer linked herein: Click Here

Water Supply – Anywhere there is Electricity
~James Dunn

Safety Precautions (Partial List): Potential for biological and other types of contamination, unforseen health hazards, periodic laboratory testing of water recommended

With the advent of a Global Energy System, electricity will be cheaply available almost anywhere in the world, and on any planet, asteroid, and space platform. Water in many of these places will be scarce and there needs to be a method of extracting water using solar energy or some other source of energy.

Where there is water, but it is polluted or is alkalie, filters are available for purifying the water that is present. But filters are most often consumable. Once expended they must be replaced. In remote areas this may be impractical so reverse osmosis filtration is commonly used.

However, many arrid regions suffer from a lack of water and it must be hauled from a supply. Here in New Mexico is one such place. There are many people who live in remote places where a water well is not practical. While the elderly and handicapped find hauling water is an extreme chore to tend. Or the cost of hauling is prohibitive.

For many of these places, this is no longer necessary. Technology exists today that is currently used for other purposes, but can provide an adequate source of drinking and cooking water. What is this technology, a household dehumidifier! A dehumidifier will extract water directly from the air.

A dehumidifier works like your air conditioner. The ambient air passes over a cold coil that looks like the radiator in your car called an evaporator. If the coil is more than 15 degrees cooler than the ambient air temperature the moisture in the air will collect on the coils. The air continues to pass through another coil called a condenser where the heat is put back into the air, plus the heat of the refrigeration pump. The air leaving the dehumidifier has less humidity than the air going in and is slightly warmer.

This technology does not work very well where the ambient air temperature is less than 50 F because the water may tend to freeze at the evaporator unless an automatic expansion valve is installed. Even then the lower limit for having a dew point sufficient for condensation of a liquid is around 45 F. So in this situation, the dehumidifier can be located inside the living space and contribute the energy used to heating the living space.

You can purchase this technology, relatively inexpensively, to allow you to live anywhere in the world with sufficient water to survive, if not comfortably. Electricity is often available from the local utility company. Solar panels and electric generators using various sources of fuel, are often used in remote locations for lighting and refrigeration.

Some desireable characteristics:

* several models available that have stainless steel evaporators
* A unit I have used produces about 5 gallons of water a day
* A cleanable plastic catch basin for the water collected.
* I can not speak to the efficiency of water volume to watt expended for any of the different models.
* Try to choose one where you can periodically clean the evaporator and condenser.
* Also, at the air inlet, choose a model where you can attach ducting to feed areas of high humidity to the dehumidifier.

Install a commercial air filter somewhere in the dehumidifier air inlet ducting. This will help keep dust and insects from getting into the evaporator and condensing down into your water supply. Although, I’ve never seen any in the water I have condensed.

Optionally, you could put a small pump and level control switch in the catch basin to pump the water to a larger holding tank if you desire continuous operation or you want a considerable reserve available.

If your living space is warm, put the dehumidifier outside of your living space and duct the air from your living space to the dehumidifier. The dehumidifier produces a certain amount of heat when it is running. This helps to bring cooling fresh air into your living space and allows the dehumidifier to capture the moisture contained in your living space. One such place is outside of your kitchen where the heat and moisture from cooking can be ducted through your dehumidifier. The other is your bathrooms where humidity might be captured.

Couple this technology with humidity confinement compartments to recover moisture from garbage, ground moisture, and even sewage. This increases the efficiency by allowing more condensate per watt of energy used; reducing the cost per gallon.

Custom designed units cost considerably more, but over time they may provide lower costs. But the portable units are readily available and inexpensive. If there is a problem with the unit, it can be less expensive to replace the portable unit than to fix a custom unit.

The unit I’ve used has been running intermittently for about 4 years. The water quality seems to be cleaner than city or well water. You could periodically take samples for analysis.

If you are going to use this as your only source of water, you must take vitamin and mineral supplements. This is basically distilled water, nothing but water. City and well water have a considerable amount of minerals. Distilled water can strip the minerals from your body if the foods you are eating do not have the minerals you need.

Costs of water aren’t cheap, but with care the energy costs are in the neighborhood of $1.50 or less per gallon. So for about $50 a month, you get all the drinking and cooking water you need; anywhere in the world that has electricity, based upon present and local utility costs. In some areas the cost of power is much less, in others much more.

Yet another alternative is if you are running a refrigerated air conditioner to cool your home. The water coming from the air conditioner is distilled water. Most commercial air conditioners use copper tubing and aluminum heat fins to build the evaporator. The aluminum might have negative health effects. If a stainless steel evaporator can be sized and installed in place of the copper/aluminum evaporator, then the system will be free of any metals contamination. Install a cleanable catch tray under the stainless steel evaporator and pump the condensed water to a holding tank.

So long as your ducting is clean and you have a clean air filter, there won’t be anything there except fresh water. In this way you get fresh water for drinking and cooking, and maybe even enough for showers and washing your clothes.

However, air conditioning and heating is the largest portion of all costs for utilities. So if you use a much smaller dehumidifier just to get the water you need, your utility bill will be much less. But if you refuse to go without refrigerated air conditioning, then you might as well benefit from the water that is produced, especially if you can sell that water to pay for your air conditioning.


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