Jul 26 2012

Wind Turbines Produce Energy AND H2O

It seems that offshore wind farms are starting to become the best alternative to fossil fuels.  They produce zero carbon dioxide emissions and studies have shown that their presence could potentially increase the biodiversity of an area and eventually help the fisheries around the wind farms.  However, a French engineering firm has discovered that wind turbines could provide another resource that is desperately needed by millions of people around the world: waterEole Water states that they have modified the traditional wind turbine to include an appliance that can manufacture drinking water from humid air.  The company wants to start producing these turbines for communities in arid countries that have scarce water resources.  “This technology could enable rural areas to become self-sufficient in terms of water supply,” says Thibault Janin, the director of marketing at Eole Water.

The device uses the electricity produced by the wind turbine to “generate” water.  Air is sucked in through the turbine via a device called the “air blower.”  The air trapped is directed through an electric cooling compressor behind the propellers.  It is here where the humidity is extracted from the air, condensed and collected.  The water is then transferred down stainless steel pipes and stored in a storage tank at the base of the turbine.  The water can then be filtered and purified so it is ready to be consumed.

How the Eole Water Turbine works.

According to Eole Water, one turbine could generate 1000 liters of water every day, if the humidity, temperature and wind speeds are ideal.

Although this technology is primarily intended for onshore wind farms, I think this technology could be especially useful in coastal areas or for small businesses.  Although I am sure coastal areas have mastered the art of drilling wells into the groundwater supply to obtain fresh water, there is always a risk of saltwater intrusion.  Small businesses could install these specialized turbines and start generating their own water.

In addition, these turbines would be incredibly useful in areas where fresh water is obtained desalination of salt water.  According to the U.S Geological Survey, in 2002 there were about 12,500 desalinization plants in 120 countries.  Although most of the users of desalinated water are in the Middle East and North Africa, the United States is one of the most important users of desalinated water, such as in California and Florida.  We use about 6.5% of the desalinated water in the world.



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2 responses so far

2 Responses to “Wind Turbines Produce Energy AND H2O”

  1.   lemayon 26 Jul 2012 at 5:31 pm

    This would be an excellent idea for areas in the world that do not have obtainable drinking water. It could potentially provide a reliable source of drinking and cooking water. This idea is actually similar to one designed by the Australian company Oceanlinx. They use their oscillating water column technology to desalinize when the waves are not producing electricity. They believe their technology has the potential to provide fresh water to 3,500 households. In both cases it does not seem as though there would be a lot of electricity generated, though, because the machines use it to create fresh water. I suppose these technologies could be used in just small rural towns that are not connected to a running water supply. What would happen if no electricity were generated in a day? Would people go without drinking water? These problems will need to be addressed as the idea develops further. Perhaps both of these technologies could be combined to create double the electricity and water. Either way, this technology is still young and something better and more efficient will probably come along to fully utilize this potential.


  2.   CLinqon 29 May 2013 at 1:58 am

    Since 780 million people lack access to clean drinking water and more children die of diarrhea from water borne illness each year than they do of aids and malaria combined methods for attaining potable water is a necessity. Many of the approaches to solving this issue in Sub Saharan Africa that I have studied are potentially unsustainable. Proctor and Gambles PUR packets which can make puddle water potable are an effective technology, but do not fix the issue at its route. Women still have to walk on average 6km a day in order to attain water. Collecting water often keeps women out of the workforce and even prevents girls from attending school. Water pumps and wells stop the need to travel for water, but draw from groundwater which will eventually run dry. This wind turbine technology sounds like a very promising solution because it draws from humidity, a seemingly renewable source. The turbines could also be used in conjunction with wells. This would ensure a water source even on days the turbine didn’t generate much power and slow the long-term draining of underground water reserves.

    If the turbines were put into place community involvement, especially in poorer areas, would be crucial. Some community members would need to be involved in implanting the technology so they understand the device and can fix it if necessary. This will help make the device more sustainable within the community by preventing the need for continual trips by the engineers. Additionally, community values should be taken into account when deciding the location of the device, especially since turbines contain both noise and visual pollution.

    In terms of pricing, perhaps countries or large areas could follow the model of water.org’s water credit, which allows poor villages to receive loans to purchase latrines or water pumps. The difference and potential issue to this idea is that water credit operates via micro finance which may not be plausible for such an expensive product. A similar method for paying would be microloans such as those through Kiva.org. People from around the world can contribute to funding the loans, which are eventually paid back. People in poor areas could eventually pay back the loans by the money for energy they save. Additionally, having a sustainable water source opens up huge possibilities for economic expansion within a community. The main possibility it opens up is women to entering the workforce (more on the benefits of this at http://www.girleffect.org/)