Nick Rosen | |
 Abe Sher, CEO Aqua Science
Sher: secret science

Amazing. A gizmo which sucks the air in, then sucks the water out of the air, and then spews out clean fresh water. 500 Gallons of it  a day. Every off-grid home should have one. Only problem is it’ll set you back a cool $500,000 . FEMA have already bought two, and the US Army is said to be on the verge of buying many, because getting our boys pure water is one of the key logistics requirements of any operational planning.

The box o’ tricks is from Aqua Sciences Inc, and the company says the high cost is justified because in the end it “only costs you $0.25 per gallon. For those of us without an entire battalion at our command, however the price is still a little steep. The makers are working on a consumer model, but it won’t be out any time soon.

Its precise workings aren’t public, but they use a chemical process similar to the one that causes salt to absorb moisture from the air (and clump up your saltshaker). The water-harvesting technology was originally the brainchild of the Pentagon’s Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA), which sought ways to ensure sustainable water supplies for U.S. combat troops deployed in arid regions like Iraq.

Darpa gave millions to research companies like LexCarb and Sciperio to create a contraption that could capture water in the Mesopotamian desert. But it was Aqua Sciences, that was first to put a product on the market that can operate in harsh climates.

“People have been trying to figure out how to do this for years, and we just came out of left field in response to Darpa,” said Abe Sher, chief executive officer of Aqua Sciences. “The atmosphere is a river full of water, even in the desert. It won’t work absolutely everywhere, but it works virtually everywhere.”

Sher said he is “not at liberty” to disclose details of the government contracts, except that Aqua Sciences won two highly competitive bids with “some very sophisticated companies.”

He also declined to comment on how the technology actually works.

“This is our secret sauce,” Sher said. “Like Kentucky Fried Chicken, it tastes good, but we won’t tell you what’s in it.”

“We figured out how to tap it in a very unique and proprietary way,” Sher said. “We figured out how to mimic nature, using natural salt to extract water and act as a natural decontamination.

“Think of the Dead Sea, where nothing grows around it because the salt dehydrates everything. It’s kind of like that.”

The 20-foot machine can churn out 600 gallons of water a day without using or producing toxic materials and byproducts.

Jason Rowe, chief of staff to Rep. Tom Feeney, Florida Republican, called the technology “pretty impressive.”

“I was pretty blown away by the things it’s able to do,” Rowe said. “The fact that this technology is not tied to humidity like others are makes it an attractive alternative for military bases in the Mideast where humidity is not really an option.

“It seems like it’s a cheaper alternative to trucking in bottled water, which has a shelf life,” said Rowe, who described himself as a fiscal hawk.

Once deployed, the machines could reduce the cost of logistical support for supplying water to the troops in Iraq by billions of dollars, said Stuart Roy, spokesman of the DCI Group, Aqua Sciences’ public affairs firm.

The cost to transport water by C-17 cargo planes, then truck it to the troops, runs $30 a gallon. The cost, including the machines from Aqua Sciences, will be reduced to 30 cents a gallon, Roy said.

Several systems on the market can create water through condensation, but the process requires a high level of humidity. Aqua Sciences’ machines only require 14 percent humidity, Roy said. “That’s why this technology is superior and why they are getting the contracts.”

Here’s the spec: Fully-contained mobile freshwater generation system for large-scale production, including power generator

Self-powered by diesel generator (7-day supply), or by grid electricity

Easy to install, use and maintain

Container models can produce up to 1,200 gallons of water per day for 7 days without outside electrical source or refueling.

The 40 foot container with the reverse osmosis module can provide emergency water for up to 3,000 people per day.

20 FOOT EMERGENCY WATER STATION

Rated Water Production: Up to 500 gallons/day (depending on conditions)

Dimensions: Modified 20′ container: 20′ long x 7.7′ wide x 7.8′ high

Water Containers: Individual water containers for emergency distribution included

40 FOOT EMERGENCY WATER STATION

Rated Water Production: Up to 1,200 gallons/day (depending on conditions)

Integrated R.O. Module: Included reverse osmosis module can provide up to an additional 8,000 gallons/day from an existing source dependent upon conditions.

Dimensions: Modified 40′ container: 40′ long x 7.7′ wide x 7.8′ high

Water Containers: Individual water containers for emergency distribution included

Modular design enhances reliability

Quick standard connection for external storage tank

Can be powered by electricity or generator

Portable or can be affixed to structure

Easy to install, use, maintain and move

Deliverable by truck to isolated areas

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