Khalifa University Launches World’s First Solar-powered Atmospheric Water Generator
Khalifa University of Science and Technology, in partnership with UAE-based atmospheric water generator manufacturer Eshara Water, Swedish energy storage technology leader Azelio AB, and Masdar City, a sustainable development, has launched the world’s first atmospheric water generation system (AWG) powered entirely by solar energy and electrical thermal energy storage.
The technology produces drinking water straight from the air and can supply up to 1,000 liters per day per unit, with plans to increase capacity to 7,500 liters in the near future. The AWG project combines AWG with solar power and two thermal energy storage power-on-demand (TES.POD®) systems for night clean electricity supply.
Dr. Arif Sultan Al Hammadi, Executive Vice-President of Khalifa University, said that the collaboration is a region-relevant, community-specific, and sustainable research initiative, which offers expertise and infrastructure to facilitate research for clean production of water and power. The outcome of this AWG project is expected to benefit distant or isolated off-grid regions that would otherwise have to depend on non-ecofriendly energy sources for their daily electricity and water requirements.
Atmospheric water generation is gaining popularity as a means of producing drinking water in remote locations, or for specific uses such as disaster relief, where distance and time hinder the installation of conventional water desalination. AWG systems capture moisture from ambient air to produce fresh water through cooling of most air below its dew point causing the moisture to condense as water. The water collected is then filtered and treated to meet quality standards.
Dr. Nicolas Calvet, Assistant Professor of Mechanical Engineering at Khalifa University, and Founder and Chair of Khalifa University’s Masdar Institute Solar Platform (MISP) at Masdar City, said that Khalifa University has installed 450 kW of solar photovoltaic (PV) panels for this groundbreaking project funded by Azelio. He added that the university’s mission is to pioneer solutions that cater to the environmental needs of the UAE and the wider global community, hence this project focuses on energy storage and production of electricity and water at night.
Ahmed Baghoum, Acting CEO of Masdar City, said that the solar-powered atmospheric water generator is a perfect representation of their vision, a mechanism that generates potable water without the need for power from the national grid.
Eshara Water has commercialised AWG systems with production capacities of up to 7,500 liters per day. However, the modular technology can produce as much as 1 million liters of fresh water a day.
Thanks to the solar PV farm and the TES.POD® energy storage system designed by Azelio AB, the AWG system installed at the MISP can operate 24 hours a day.
“Food and water security are crucial and increasingly important in many parts of the world. We are delighted to contribute to showcasing this groundbreaking solution for fresh water supply and electricity – in an application where our energy storage technology is a perfect fit,” said Jonas Wallmander, CEO of Azelio.