Warka Water: A Structure that Extracts Water from Air

Water is one of the important sources of life. It is important to ensure that everyone has access to such fundamental sources of life. Water scarcity has been increasing at an exponential rate. Water scarcity issue affects around 1 billion people in Africa alone. Developing water producing techniques have gained momentum in this context. Arturo Vittori, an industrial designer, and his colleague Andreas Vogler have invented a new product called Warka Water. It is an inexpensive, easily assembled structure that extracts gallons of fresh water from the air.

The water scarcity issue has become intense, in some parts of Ethiopia finding potable water is a six-hour journey. According to a group, Water Project, people in this region spend around 40 billion hours a year in search of water. The water found is nevertheless, not safe for drinking because of the infectious bacteria and other harmful products.

People like Matt Damon, co. founder of Water.org and Microsoft co. founder Bill Gates has invested money in coming up with a system that converts toilet water into drinking water and a “Reinvent the Toilet Challenge” among others. However, such programs have received criticisms on the grounds of the cost involved in building such complex technologies in remote areas and maintenance thereafter.

“If the many failed development projects of the past 60 years have taught us anything,” wrote one critic, Toilets for People founder Jason Kasshe, in a New York Times editorial, “it’s that complicated, imported solutions do not work.”

The functionality of Warka Water is not complex but relies on basic elements like shape and material and the ways in which they work together. The Warka Water structure consists of 30-foot tall vase shaped towers.

The outer part of towers is comprised of lightweight and elastic juncus stalks, woven in a pattern that offers stability in the face of strong wind gusts while still allowing air to flow through. A mesh net made of nylon or  polypropylene, hangs inside, collecting droplets of dew that form along the surface. As cold air condenses, the droplets roll down into a container at the bottom of the tower. The water in the container then passes through a tube that functions as a faucet, carrying the water to those waiting on the ground.

Internal field tests have shown that Warka Water has the capacity to collect nearly 25 gallons of water per day. The structures, made from biodegradable materials, are easy to clean and can be erected without mechanical tools in less than a week. Plus, he says, “once locals have the necessary know-how, they will be able to teach other villages and communities to build the Warka.”

It costs about $500 to install Warka Water system and Vittori further, says that the price would come down if the tower is mass produced. His team hopes to install at least two Warka water systems in Ethiopia by the coming year.

Vittori on talking about the vision of the Warka Water project said, “It’s not just illnesses that we’re trying to address. Many Ethiopian children from rural villages spend several hours every day to fetch water, time they could invest for more productive activities and education.” “If we can give people something that lets them be more independent, they can free themselves from this cycle.”


Shobith MAKAM Written by:

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