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New device harvests fresh water from the air

Water, water everywhere, but not a drop to drink. Until now

The air around us is filled with minuscule droplets of water—vaporized H2O that’s too tiny to drink—unless it condenses around a cooler surface like a cold water glass in summer. But Israeli startup Water-Gen has developed a technology to harvest the air’s humidity in warm climates, producing potable water at a cost of less than ten cents a gallon.

The device has a patented funnel system that sucks in air and cools it down to the dew point, pulling out the air’s humidity like a drippy air conditioner or dehumidifier—just at a whole new level of efficiency. The units are electrically powered and designed to function best in hot, humid locales.

The device comes in three sizes. At 80 degrees and 60 percent humidity, the smallest unit—built for home or office use—produces a little less than four gallons of water a day; the medium-sized unit makes 118 gallons a day; and the largest unit can generate 825 gallons of water a day. Those numbers get boosted the hotter and more humid the climate.

The company has pilot programs testing units in Mumbai, Shanghai, and Mexico City, among other places, and expects to launch its first commercial product by the end of 2017.