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New rooftop ‘hydropanels’ will make drinkable water from thin air

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A residential version was just unveiled at a consumer tech show last week

House with partially translucent panels on a gabled roof. Zero Mass Water

Solar panels may soon get some neighbors on the roof. From Arizona-based startup Zero Mass Water comes something called a “hydropanel”, which generates drinking water from ambient air. Developed by material scientist Cody Friesen, the hydropanel is designed to produce four to 10 liters of drinking water every day depending on weather conditions and humidity levels.

At CES last week, Zero Mass Water introduced the Source Rexi Hydropanel, a smaller version of the original design introduced in 2017 that can be installed on residential roofs like a solar panel. In fact, the hydropanel isn’t so far off from its solar cousin—the Rexi is powered by the sun (and comes with a backup battery), which means it can operate off the grid. A standard Source array comprises two hydropanels, which produces enough water for four to six people.

Close up product shot of panel with black frame and translucent cover. Zero Mass Water

Sunlight powers fans inside the panel that pull in humidity from the air. Once inside the panel, air is purified and passed through a spongelike material that concentrates the water vapor and deposits it in a reservoir. The water is mineralized for drinking and ozonated to ensure it’s kept clean. All you have to do is install a tap or connect it to an appliance, such as a refrigerator.

For continental U.S. customers, a Source array with two hydropanels is expected to cost between $5,500 and $6,500 (shipping, installation, and tax included). Preorders are open on the company’s website and installations are slated to begin this summer.