PACHECO (KPIX 5) – It sounds like something right out of a science fiction movie. A Bay Area company makes machines that capture water from the air, technology that could help during our record drought.
In “Star Wars,” so-called “moisture vaporators” took the humidity from the air, and produced drinking water. Today, that galaxy isn’t so far away. It’s in the East Bay town of Pacheco.
The machines are called “atmospheric water generators,” made by Ecoloblue.
“People are starting to realize that they need to make changes. The water’s running out and looking for options,” Wayne Ferriera, owner of Ecoloblue, told KPIX 5.
Ecoloblue has been making these water makers for eight years, it’s basically a dehumidifier on steroids.
According to the company, humidity from the air is removed and then put through a filtration process, making it cleaner than tap water.
The machine performs best in hot, humid weather. But Ferriera said it will make drinking water, even on dry days.
Industrial units can make up to 2,500 gallons a day. Smaller household machines could me up to 8 gallons of water daily.
Michael DiBenedetto of Walnut Creek has a machine for his home. “It is definitely a part of the solution,” he said.
The atmospheric water generator he has had for five years is his only source of drinking water. “I believe that the atmospheric water generators, their time has come,” DiBenedetto said.
To some, that timing is still questionable. “The idea would be practical, depending on how much water is needed,” UC Davis mechanical and aerospace engineering professor Ralph Aldredge said.
Aldredge said the machines are expensive, and expensive to run. Home units cost at least $1,300, industrial versions up to a quarter million dollars.
“It is worth the cost certainly on a small scale, but on a larger scale one has to consider not only the cost of energy but also the cost of the infrastructure,” Aldredge said.
Ecoloblue is working on installing entire water stations in the Middle East and South America that would produce 100,000 gallons a day. Here in the U.S., the company believes one day its machines will be in just about every home, like a microwave oven.