Solar-Powered Panels Pull Water Out of the Air for Navajo Families Who Have None

Credits: Navajo Power

More than 50,000 Navajo people live without water, whether it comes from the tap or not. New technology could make this possible by attracting water back into drought-stricken areas.

One-third of 175,000 members of the Navajo Nation live without running water. No faucets, no springs, no wells. To purchase bottled water or to fill up tanks at faraway, contaminated wells, many must travel more than two hours round trip.

The average Navajo person uses about 10 gallons of water each day. People in nearby cities like Phoenix, Las Vegas, and Albequerque, however, use between 100 to 200 gallons every day.

This is because the Navajo Nation was excluded from key negotiations such as the 1922 Colorado River Compact, which determined how much water each state had rights to.

Some Navajo families will be able to get some relief after coronavirus highlights the public health crisis caused water scarcity.

Zero Mass Water, a company, has partnered up with the local Navajo governments as well as Navajo Power (a public benefit corporation) for a pilot project that will provide water to 15 Navajo households, which was extracted from thin air.

To start each family, they will be provided with two panels that can provide 2.5 gallons per day. Although it’s not much they will still have access to clean water whenever they are unable to get to the town. A pair of panels can store 30 gallons, which can be used to save water for cloudy days when solar-powered productivity is low.

Solar-powered hydropanels are powered by fans that pull air from the atmosphere. Then, it pushes it through a hyperspray (a fancy sponge). The water vapor trapped in the atmosphere is then extracted and condensed into a liquid. This liquid is stored in the panel’s reservoir, where it can be remineralized to achieve the best taste.

If all goes well, plans are to expand the project to include more families.

$714 million was provided by CARES Act funding for the Navajo Nation to pay for expenses related to a public health emergency. This included running water for washing hands and making sure that people have clean drinking water.

The company estimates that every Navajo home with water needs could be equipped with hydropanels for less than 10% of the cost.