The access to clean drinking water is a never-ending global issue.
Now, one Oakville teen has a new solution to help those who can’t easily access clean drinking water.
Calvin Rieder – who is clearly doing more ambitious things than we were in university – has figured out how to create drinking water from air.
As the Toronto Star reports, 19-year-old U of T mechanical engineer student has been busy building, rebuilding and tweaking a useful contraption that takes drinking water from the atmosphere rather than the rain.
He’s been working on the project since he was in grade seven, doing most of the work in his own backyard.
Now, people are definitely starting to pay attention and the hope is that it may one day benefit developing countries who lack access to large power grids.
The project involves two systems and runs “passively,” meaning it uses natural processes that don’t need an external power source.
The first part of the project involves an atmospheric water condenser that gathers drinking water throughout the night by condensing moisture from ambient air. When darkness sets, the device’s surfaces cool below the dew point – the temperature at which condensation occurs.
It’s this condensation that is collected for drinking – with the ability to produce as much as 2.6 litres at night.
The second element involves a solar still that goes to work during the day, housing contaminated Lake Ontario water that is evaporated by sunlight. The water vapour then re-condenses on the surface and is collected, in what The Star calls “water purification through distillation.”
The ultimate goal is to produce enough water to provide for the deprived regions of the world.
For this reason, Rieder’s invention is a constant work in progress.
But that doesn’t mean that it’s not already on people’s radars in a major way.
Reider has received nearly three-dozen awards in the past few years for his work, some of which are pretty big deals. This includes a second place finish in the International Science and Engineering Fair in Los Angeles in 2014 and being among 20 finalists in Google’s Mountain View, California science fair.
Back home, he was a 2015 recipient of Plan International Canada’s award honoring the top 20 Canadians under 20.
Oh – and he also spoke at TEDx Toronto last month (no big deal, right?).
There’s definitely a need for Reider’s passion and progress. By the year 2025, about 1.8 billion people will live in countries or regions where there’s a significant scarcity of water, according to the United Nations.