Making water from air wins couple $1.5 million XPrize | Fox News
1 day ago - Soon he and his wife, Laura Doss-Hertz, were thinking bigger — so much so that this week the couple won the $1.5 million XPrize For Water Abundance.
... The first XPrize, for $10 million, went to Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen and aviation pioneer Burt Rutan in 2004 for ...
Making water from air wins couple $1.5 million XPrize
LOS ANGELES – It started out modestly enough: David Hertz, having learned that under the right conditions you really can make your own water out of thin air, put a little contraption on the roof of his office and began cranking out free bottles of H2O for anyone who wanted one.
Soon he and his wife, Laura Doss-Hertz, were thinking bigger — so much so that this week the couple won the $1.5 million XPrize For Water Abundance. They prevailed by developing a system that uses shipping containers, wood chips and other detritus to produce as much as 528 gallons (2,000 liters) of water a day at a cost of no more than 2 cents a quart (1 liter).
So when Hertz learned a couple of years ago that a prize was about to be offered to whoever could come up with a cheap, innovative way to produce clean fresh water for a world that doesn't have enough of it, he decided to go all in.
He and his wife, a commercial photographer, and their partner Richard Groden, who created the smaller machine, assembled The Skysource/Skywater Alliance and went to work. They settled on creating 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.
using waste to produce water
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.
"Certainly in regions where you have a lot of biomass this is going to be a very simple technology to deploy," said Matthew Stuber, a professor of chemical and biomolecular engineering at the University of Connecticut and expert on water systems who was one of the panel's judges.
He called their water-making machine a "really cool" merging of rather simple technologies that can be used to quickly deliver water to regions hit by natural disasters, stricken by drought or even rural areas with a shortage of clean water.
Theirs was among 98 teams from 27 countries who entered. Many teams were bigger and better funded while the couple mortgaged their Malibu home to stay in the game. At one point, they were told they hadn't made the final round of five but then one team that did dropped out and they were back in.
"If you say we were the dark horse in the race, we weren't even in the race," Hertz recalled with a smile. He stood near a giant copy of the check in his office while his wife prepared to leave for a photo shoot and a visitor sampled a glass of their freshly made water.
Now, though, they are in for the long, wet haul.
"There's no restrictions whatsoever on how it's used," Hertz said of the prize money. "But Laura and I have committed to using it all for the development and deployment of these machines, to get them to people who need the water most."