Novel water source enters the ARENA. The Australian Renewable Energy Agency, saw the potential of Zero Mass Water technology to provide Australian homes, institutions and communities with water independence in February 2018.
“The commercial trial of Zero Mass Water’s Source Hydropanels across 27 sites aims to reduce the need for plastic bottles and transportation through localised water production,” an ARENA spokesperson told pv magazine.
Three Blue Ducks restaurant and farm at Byron Bay was an early adopter of Zero Mass Water’s technology: it first installed a 10-panel array to produce water for its restaurant, and subsequently used sales of that drinking water to help fund the donation of another 10 Source Hydropanels to the primary school in the water-stressed town of Murrurundi, in New South Wales’ Upper Hunter Valley.
The school principal, Rebecca Hopkins, told ABC New England in early 2019 that due to severe water restrictions in the district, some local families had had to spend $1,500 over the previous year on bottled water, and that the school had also had no choice but to allocate funds to buy bottled water for staff and students.
Although the cost of individual solar-powered water-from-air systems remains relatively high, at around $3,000 for a single self-contained Source Hydropanel, production within metres of the tap disintermediates drinking water supply from the cost and energy expended in water capture, water treatment, water pumping, water containment, bottled-water transport, and bottle recycling.
A solar-powered fan drives air through a super-absorbant, hygroscopic material which collects water at 20,000 times the concentration of vapour in the air.
Including the 27 ARENA-supported sites, Zero Mass Water installations now supply 50 locations of varying sizes in Australia with drinking water independent of rainfall, water tables, carbon-intense energy, pipes and plastic.