The Water Abundance XPRIZE is a prize worth $1.75 million which is awarded to the best invention which can provide a feasible solution for the world’s water crisis. The title is of a vast amount, and therefore it also follows some strict criteria. First of all, the device should be able to extract a minimum of 2000 liter of water from the atmosphere every single day. Secondly, the cost of the operation should not exceed 2 cents per liter, and lastly, the device should run on a renewable energy source. More than 780 million people are deprived of water shortage. Therefore, the need to develop such a method is real. Recently, the XPrize was awarded to the WEDEW project created by Skysource/Skywater Alliance.
The WEDEW or Wood to Energy natural resource for power promises all the right things which we want to see in a machine which can harvest water without causing a lot of pollution or cost. Theoretically, the WEDEW is efficient equipment and creates an environment where humid air can condense to release water. What makes this system stand out is that it doesn’t require any electricity and can operate on biomass. It is a combination of two already existing technologies; a Skywater which takes in air and condenses it to extract water from it. The problem is that this technology needs a lot of energy to operate. The other part is called a Biomass Gasifier.
This method of biomass decomposition uses pyrolysis to vaporize the biomass. When Pyrolysis is taking place a hot and humid condition is created which is perfect to condense the hot air coming in. When the Pyrolysis process is taking place, the biomass is converted into biochar. It is potent organic manure which can help plants to grow and flourish. David Hertz, a California-based architect who led the project said, “It’s a carbon-negative technology. I think the future of technologies is going to be moving to this restorative, regenerative model that helps to repair the damage we’ve done.”
The XPrize competition began in 2016 when the participants from all over the world tried to develop a machine which can generate fresh water. At the beginning of this year, there were only five contestants left in the competition from total 95. In September, the number fell further to just 2. LA-based Skysource/Skywater Alliance and Hawaii’s JMCC WING. The solution provided by Skysource/Skywater was able to produce 113 Liters to 1135 liters each day. The WEDEW won $1.5 million prize money while JMCC WING was awarded $150K for the efforts it made.
Zenia Tata, chief impact officer of XPrize, said, “We do a lot of first principles thinking of XPrize when we start designing these challenges.” The team realized that the solution is the atmosphere which holds 12 quadrillion gallons of water. She further added, “At any given time, it holds 12 quadrillion gallons–the number 12 with 19 zeros after it–a very, very, big number.” The XPrize is sponsored by the TATA Group and Australia’s Aid Group.