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Aussie-first trial will create drinking water from air using solar power

The Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA) has announced an Australian-first trial of drinking water systems that produce clean drinking water drawn directly from the air using solar power.

On behalf of the Australian Government, ARENA will provide $420,000 in funding to US-based Zero Mass Water to deploy 150 of its solar-powered SOURCE drinking water systems across multiple locations in Australia.

The $821,500 total project will demonstrate the technology not yet seen in Australia – a product that produces clean, renewable, infrastructure-free drinking water extracted from the air using solar energy.

The SOURCE hydropanels are infrastructure free with no external electricity or water required for operation. Instead of filtering or distributing mains water, SOURCE produces pure water by harnessing the power of the sun and the moisture in the air.

SOURCE hydropanels can produce up to five litres of clean drinking water on a typical day, depending on the climate.

Each SOURCE hydropanel produces enough water to displace over 20,000 plastic water bottles over 15 years.

Under the trial, SOURCE will be rolled out in 150 sites across Australia including Sydney, Adelaide, Perth as well as regional towns and remote communities. The pilot will trial SOURCE in a variety of locations including airports, cafes, community centres, commercial buildings and sustainable properties.

The project will reduce the reliance on plastic bottled water while also provide accessible clean drinking water to rural communities with limited access to clean drinking water or electricity, or during droughts.

The pilot phase of the project will also incorporate a third party study to evaluate the environmental impacts of bottled water in Australia.

ARENA CEO Ivor Frischknecht said the SOURCE panels were a unique way of accelerating solar PV innovation in Australia.

“Zero Mass Water’s project will create a product that offers a new application and market opportunity for the solar industry in Australia. Using a combination of solar PV with solar thermal technology, SOURCE’s ability to create clean drinking water could be utilised to achieve positive solutions around water supply,” Mr Frischknecht said.

“The potential benefits of this technology to the environment are important. This pilot project can produce reliable drought-resistant water sources to remote communities while simultaneously reducing the amount of plastic bottles that end up in landfill,” he said.

Zero Mass Water’s founder and CEO Cody Friesen said: “We are thrilled to partner with ARENA and demonstrate our SOURCE hydropanel technology in Australia.

“SOURCE hydropanels provide a renewable, infrastructure-free water solution to the driest inhabited continent on earth.”

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