Safe Drinking Water from Atmospheric Moisture using Desiccants and Solar Radiation

EPA Grant Number: SU834741
Title: Safe Drinking Water from Atmospheric Moisture using Desiccants and Solar Radiation
Investigators: Davies, Molly , Immethun, Cheryl , Mitchell, James , Wagner, Shawn
Current Investigators: Immethun, Cheryl , Davies, Caroline P , Mitchell, James
Institution: University of Missouri - Kansas City
EPA Project Officer: Nolt-Helms, Cynthia
Phase: I
Project Period: August 15, 2010 through August 14, 2011
Project Amount: $10,000
RFA: P3 Awards: A National Student Design Competition for Sustainability Focusing on People, Prosperity and the Planet (2010) RFA Text |  Recipients Lists
Research Category: Pollution Prevention/Sustainable Development , P3 Challenge Area - Water , P3 Awards , Sustainability


Scarcity of safe drinking water places unnecessary hardship on populations living in many regions of the world. This can lead to civil unrest, poor overall health and high infant mortality. Current methods of providing safe drinking water can be energy intensive and require extensive infrastructure. Desalinization, purification and transportation of drinking water usually depend upon the burning of fossil fuels for the building of the large scale infrastructure and for its operation. These unsustainable practices deplete and pollute resources. Furthermore, diminishing sources of water suffer from increasing pollution concentration. This project will develop an inexpensive and simple method of supplying safe drinking water for an ordinary user who lives even in arid regions of the world.


Water vapor will be collected at night through the use of a desiccant that is inexpensive and locally available in the target area of North Africa. During the day the water laden desiccant will be placed into a solar heated metal box constructed from locally available materials. The water vapor now regenerated from the desiccant in the solar heated box will be drawn into a naturally cool condensation container by way of vapor pressure difference resulting in safe drinking water. Components of this system have been proven. This project will optimize and combine them into an inexpensive, durable and simple system that an ordinary user could construct and use to supply drinking water for their family.

Expected Results:

The design will be optimized to produce four gallons of water per day in an arid climate. It will be constructed from locally available, inexpensive, and durable materials into a simple system that ordinary users can construct themselves. The system design will be shared with a nongovernmental organization to assist in distributing it to populations without adequate access to safe drinking water and communities that are overdrawing their water supply. Water system demonstrations will also include education on the increasing scarcity of water, the importance of sustainable practices, and the unsustainable/energy intensive practices of desalinization, river damming, and draining of lakes. Secondarily, a system will be created that could be produced and sold to outdoor enthusiasts. The proceeds from the outdoor enthusiast version will help support the work by the partner nongovernmental organization.

Supplemental Keywords:

atmospheric moisture, impoverished, water quality, dew point,

Progress and Final Reports:

  • Final Report