Fresh water production from atmospheric air: Technology and innovation outlook

Figure showing the four main atmospheric water harvesting processes
Elsevier, iScience, Volume 24, 19 November 2021
Peeters R., Vanderschaeghe H., Ronge J., Martens J.A.

Capturing water vapor from atmospheric air is a possible solution to local water scarcity, but it is very energy demanding. Energy consumption estimates of water-from-air technologies involving adsorption processes, thermo-responsive hydrophilicity switching polymers, air cooling processes, and reverse osmosis of deliquescent salt solutions reveal that these technologies are not competitive when compared with seawater desalination, and the use of fresh water and wastewater sources. They only become a viable option in the absence of local liquid water sources and when long-distance transport for socio-economic reasons is not an option. Of interest, direct solar-driven technology for water-from-air production is an attractive means to disentangle the local water-energy nexus. It is expected that climate change will accelerate the introduction of water-from-air technologies in local water supply schemes. The optimal water-from-air technology depends on the climate, relative humidity, and temperature profiles. A world map is presented, indicating the optimal geographic location for each technology.