If innovation is change, then water should be one of the least innovative substances in the world. Because the earth is a closed system, today’s water is the liquid that was around millions of years ago.
Water makes up about 60% of the average human body, 70% of the brain and 80% of the blood circulating in our veins. While 70% to 75% of the earth’s surface is covered by water, just 3% is fresh water. What’s more, the vast majority of that fresh water is locked up in the form of ice. When it comes to accessible fresh water, just .007% of the earth’s water is available for human consumption.
And that’s where the trouble begins.
With scarcity comes conflict, and the numbers paint a troubling picture. According to multiple sources, over 780 million people lack access to clean water, leading to an estimated 3.4 million deaths each year. Since 1950, there have already been over 1,800 conflicts over water, an average of 28 per year. The frequency and intensity of those conflicts is expected to rise. The United States is facing a number of interstate conflicts over water rights including at a federal, state, interstate and individual level.
Fortunately, there are a whole slew of innovators looking to solve the emerging water crisis. Rather than looking to the ground where water collects, these innovators are conjuring this life sustaining substance from the thin air. Their goal is to tap in to the 37,500 trillion gallons of fresh water in the air at any given moment.
Canadian non-profit FogQuest has developed a technology that collects fog and turns it into water that’s pure enough for drinking, and abundant enough for irrigation. The system is particularly promising for under-developed areas since it’s a completely passive system that requires the addition of no energy to function.
Another company conjuring water from thin air is Eole Water, a French company that’s created a turbine that not only collects water from the air, but also generates electricity at the same time. Capable of collecting up to 1,500 liters of water a day, the green technology boasts that the use of their product releases no CO², and requires no groundwater drilling and no water surface pumping.
Not all water innovation is focused on human consumption. AirDrop irrigation system returns moisture to the soil by literally feeding the humid air from the atmosphere back under the ground. Designed for use in otherwise inhospitable conditions, the AirDrop irrigation system is a low-tech, self-sufficient solar powered solution. The system is currently being field tested in some of Australia’s more challenging growing environments.