Based upon the Peltier technology, the SunGlacier team has designed a solar-powered water maker called X-model, which operates without any batteries and current inverters. It includes a photovoltaic panel and has the capacity to generate power for the 18W Peltier element minimizing the heat level in the aluminum block below the ambient dew point.
No Moving Parts Means Low Wear and Low Maintenance
The project was initiated by Ap Verheggen who wants to introduce positive signals related to changes in the climate. He believes that the climatic changes in different parts of the world is dynamic and has a deep impact the culture. With this rapid change in climate, there is a need to give a quick response to this issue.
This SunGlacier concept includes a unique and innovative artistic design. It has been tested and possesses great potential for further optimization. The temperature of the aluminum cooling element surface is beneath the dew point of ambient air because of which the water will start condensing on the surface of the element.
Theoretically, X-model can produce water for decades until the solar panel or the Peltier element ceases to function
Experts in the field also claim that the project will be able to create ice and water in a desert environment through solar energy. It is only necessary to reduce the surface temperature of the aluminum below 0°C. Unfortunately, that requires a lot of energy due to the high temperature difference. On the other hand, the desert’s sun provides enough powerful solar radiation for the conversion of electricity in temperature differences by making use of the Peltier effect. However, there are some issues that need to be addressed as well like what climatic facts need to be considered in a desert environment, where water can be found in enough quantities and how will adequate freezing capacity be generated to create and sustain an amount of ice within the environment.
SunGlacier has designed this technology in which water will be collected from the air dropping over the element surface by means of a gravitational force. Moreover, the Peltier element has been designed to have temperature differences of about 67°C maximum between the hotter side of the upper part and cooler side in the lower part. The temperature of the condenser commonly increases when there is a rise of air temperature; however, the cooler side will be below the dew point even under desert conditions. In the end, two factors determine the needed dew point temperature: The ambient air temperature and the relative air humidity.
The project is a milestone as the model can move on in theory for many years or until the solar panel or the Peltier element wears out and should be changed. This technology could once be helpful in the urban farming sector as it holds enough capacity to produce water that is adequate for growing smaller plants with a low water requirement. Rooftop farms are ideally suited for the solar panel as no shadow interrupts the electricity generation. In addition to this, the X-model also has the capacity to generate drinkable water provided the surrounded air is clean. In order to produce larger quantities of drinking water, an inexpensive and commonly available device will be used. The round shape device is considered to be more effective as it has nearly the same distance to the cooler side of the Peltier element.
Adding in a cylinder-shaped panel around the Peltier system will create a higher and natural flow of air, which will increase the potential of the water condenser. The entire process is powered through solar energy and weather conditions will be responsible for water bursts frequency. Air with higher temperatures can store more water, which makes this air more viable for producing water. Regions with increased air temperatures often mean more sun, which ultimately means that there is more potential for producing water through this technology.
Unfortunately, with a Peltier element of 12 volts, it is possible to produce half a glass of water (about 15cl) per 6 hours. SunGlacier defines this as a milestone. In practice, the investment doesn’t offset the ecological or economical benefits of X-model’s off-grid-produced water. However, as mentioned above, the yield also depends on the ambient air humidity. Regions with a higher relative humidity will be able to harvest more water. On the other hand, regions with considerably high air humidity levels, such as the capitals Dhaka (Bangladesh) or Kampala (Uganda), are naturally blessed with rainwater anyway. Please don’t be too disappointed yet. Fortunately, there is potential to improve the yield with, for example, a more efficient and larger photovoltaic module and more powerful Peltier elements. At present, SunGlacier’s strives to produce at least 10 liters per day – still without running or moving any components.