There is no doubt that water is the most abundant resource on earth. After all, it covers more than 70% of the earth-nevertheless, as a species, we still face an imminent crisis. Climate change, global conflict and overpopulation are just some of the factors that undermine the water supply in many parts of the world. This means that 2 billion people—a quarter of the population—have no access to safe drinking water. As the world’s population gets closer and closer to 8 billion, people are focusing their attention on developing technologies that can help solve this problem before it is too late. One of the people offering potential solutions is Michael Mirilashvili, the head of Watergen, an Israel-based company that is using its air-to-water technology to deliver drinking water to remote areas of the world affected by conflict or climate change. Pumping out of thin air sounds like science fiction, but the technology is actually simpler than it seems.
The earth’s atmosphere contains 13 billion tons of fresh water while Watergen’s machines work by filtering water vapor in the air. He said that if used properly, Watergen’s technology could trigger a major transformation in the water industry, which could have a lasting impact on the planet. “A big advantage of using atmospheric water is that there is no need to build water transport, so there is no need to worry about heavy metals in pipelines or clean contaminated water from the ground or pollute the earth with plastic bottles.” One obvious obstacle seems to be air pollution, which has become a common concern in some major cities around the world. For example, in the United Kingdom, a study by Imperial College London found that even though lead was banned in 1999, lead that is toxic to the human body will still exist in urban air in 2021. A study conducted by scientists at Tel Aviv University in Israel found that dirty or polluted air can be transformed into clean water.
Air pollution has become a common concern in some major cities in the world. For example, in the United Kingdom, a study by Imperial College London found that even though lead was banned in 1999, lead that is toxic to the human body will still exist in urban air in 2021. However, this may not matter. A study conducted by scientists from Tel Aviv University in Israel found that even in urban areas such as Tel Aviv, it is possible to extract drinking water to the standards set by the World Health Organization. In other words, clean water can be converted from dirty or polluted air. Watergen’s largest machine can provide 6,000 liters of water a day. It has been used to support entire hospitals in the Gaza Strip and rural villages in Central Africa, otherwise people would have to walk for hours to find the source of water. It also helped the Australian government fight the devastating bushfires in 2020, which killed 34 people and destroyed 3,500 houses.
According to the World Health Organization (WHO), more than 2 billion people have only access to water contaminated with feces. Just one sip puts them at risk of contracting diseases such as cholera and typhoid, and it is estimated that about 500,000 people die each year. Speaking of finding clean water, there is a resource in our ocean. Icebergs contain some of the purest water in the world because they come from glaciers that formed thousands of years ago. Huge ice cubes can be harmful to shipping, and when they melt, they can destroy marine ecosystems with large amounts of fresh water. Harvesting them for profit first started in Canada, where it has become a big business on the east coast of the country. But this practice has now been extended to other parts of the world. Entrepreneur and environmentalist Abdulla Al-Shehi is working with the Iceberg project in the United Arab Emirates.
The shortage of water resources poses a huge risk to the country, as climate change raises the temperature in one of the hottest places on the planet. “On average, a huge iceberg can provide a million people with water for 3-5 years,” he claimed. “So why not use everything that nature has to offer us? I hope that one day I can bring icebergs to the Arabian Peninsula.” However, the journey brings risks. Due to the size of the iceberg, the iceberg may tip over during transportation and cause fatal accidents. They must also be wrapped with specially designed insulating materials to reduce the melting rate during the journey. Therefore, it is not surprising that the process can be expensive. The UAE Iceberg project will first harvest a smaller iceberg and ship it to Perth in Western Australia or Cape Town in South Africa. “The estimated cost is between US$60-80 million (£42-57 million), and the entire project may cost about US$15-200 million,” Mr. Al-Shehi said.
With information from: https://www.bbc.com/news/business-57847654