Dhruvika writes on sustainable practices in various sectors for BuzzOnEarth. Get in touch with her at dhruvika@buzzonearth.com. Sometimes she reads her emails too.

David Hertz and Laura Doss-Hertz won the prestigious XPRIZE 2018 for developing an efficient way of producing water from the air. The couple won $1.5 million Water Abundance Xprize for their invention.

The team, named The Skysource/ Skywater Alliance was announced as the grand prize winner on October 22. Surprisingly, The Skysource/ Skywater Alliance wasn’t among the top 5 finalists. It was selected as an entry when one of the five finalists decided to drop out.

The runner-up and $150K prize winner, Hawaii’s JMCC Wing, combined a large, super-efficient wind turbine with a commercial condenser unit.

XPrize is a two-year competition aimed at alleviating the global water crisis with energy-efficient technologies that harvest fresh water from thin air. The goal of the program was to collect “a minimum of 2,000 liters of water per day from the atmosphere using 100 percent renewable energy, at a cost of no more than 2 cents per liter.”

David Hertz came up with the idea to put a little contraption on the roof of his office and collecting water in bottles. Soon, along with his wife Laura, a commercial photographer and their partner Richard Groden, he developed a system that uses shipping containers, wood chips, and other detritus to produce 2000 litres of water a day at a cost of not more than 2 cents per litre. And the whole system is powered by 100 percent renewable energy.

The Skysource/Skywater Alliance co-founders David Hertz, left, and his wife Laura Doss-Hertz pose for a portrait next to the Skywater 300 Wednesday, Oct. 24, 2018, in Los Angeles. The company received the $1.5 million XPrize For Water Abundance for developing the Skywater 300, a machine that makes water from air. (AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez)

They created little rainstorms inside shipping containers by heating up wood chips to produce the temperature and humidity needed to draw water from the air and the wood itself.

One of the fascinating things about shipping containers is that more are imported than exported, so there’s generally a surplus,” says Hertz, adding they’re cheap and easy to move around. And if you don’t have wood chips to heat them with, coconut husks, rice, walnut shells, grass clippings or just about any other such waste product will do just fine.

“It has been pretty intense but it’s really been exciting for me to see water come out of our system because this is connected to real lives in the world,” said team member Jay Hasty in an Xprize video.

The XPrize competition, powered by the Tata Group and Australian Aid, was launched in 2016 at the United Nations in New Delhi, and created by a group of philanthropists, entrepreneurs and others, has awarded more than $140 million over the years for what it calls audacious futuristic ideas aimed at protecting and improving the planet. The first XPrize, for $10 million, went to Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen and aviation pioneer Burt Rutan in 2004 for SpaceShipOne, the first privately financed manned space flight.

These competitions not only provide finance to keep these businesses grow but also helps in providing a big platform for these innovations so they can be implemented at a wider scale around the world to eliminate water scarcity.

Featured Image- XPRIZE



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