Zero Mass Water, an Arizona State University startup has created solar panel which produces water as well as electricity. The device is called SOURCE and it is standalone, meaning that it does not need any wiring or water input to harvest solar energy and produce drinking water at the same time. They have been running a pilot program since 2015 to test the system, which is already installed in a number of homes and communities.
One SOURCE unit measures 30 sq ft (2.8 sq m). It is capable of generating electricity via the solar photovoltaic panel, while it also has an integrated lithium-ion for storing the used electricity. The device then uses that electricity to power a cycle of condensation and evaporation, which produces 2 to 5 liters of water a day.
The system also includes an 8 gal (30 liter) reservoir for storing the waters that’s produced. Minerals are also added to the water here to improve taste. This reservoir can also be plumbed directly to the taps inside the building in which this system is installed. To meet the full needs of the household, multiple SOURCE units can be installed.
According to the creators, these units require minimal maintenance. The system only needs a new air filter once a year and a new mineral cartridge every five years. What also makes this system so unique is that it allows people to own their own water supply for the first time. They will also be very useful in areas where there is little to no access to drinking water.
To speed up deployment in these areas the company is starting an interesting program aimed at early adopters of the tech. They will ask customers who buy one of these SOURCE panels to split the cost of an additional panel with the company. This additional panel will be given to a family or community in need, and the customer will get to choose where it will be deployed. The household to which this panel will be given will only pay for installation and shipping.
The price is set at $4800 per unit, which is made up of $3200 for one SOURCE unit, and $1600 for the additional unit to be gifted to a family or community in need. It’s a thoughtful initiative, which will hopefully help several communities gain access to clean water.