Water/steam / Water/Wastewater

Renewable Resources: Water Really Becomes Prized

Novel competition aims to spur extraction from air

By Mark Rosenzweig, Editor in Chief

Water availability is a growing concern, prompting important initiatives by chemical companies, as our recent cover story “Keep Calm and Save Water,” underscores. Of course, the issue has much broader implications — and this has led to the launch in late October of an unusual competition — the Water Abundance XPrize. It challenges teams to develop devices to economically retrieve water from air; the winner will receive a $1.5-million grand prize. The Water Abundance XPrize is open to all comers from anywhere in the world.

The device must extract water at low cost using renewable energy.

Sponsored by XPrize, Culver City, Calif., with funding from Tata Group and Australia Aid, the competition aims to spur successful development of a device that satisfies several key criteria. It must extract at least 2,000 L of water per day from the atmosphere, boast combined operating and capital costs that don’t exceed 2¢/L, and use 100% renewable energy.

Entrants must register by March 31, 2017. All competing teams will retain the rights to their technology.

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The competition consists of two rounds. Round 1, which is slated for November 2017, will put the devices through live testing using an online platform. Judges then will select the top five teams. These will go on to Round 2. Here, the devices will undergo testing for most of the month of June 2018 at their own geographic locations. A team of XPrize representatives and a neutral auditor will oversee these trials, with the winner announced in August 2018.

For more details on the Water Abundance XPrize, check: http://water.xprize.org.

At the same time this competition was announced, XPrize also launched the Anu and Naveen Jain Women’s Safety XPrize to develop technology to provide location-accurate alerts in emergency situations.

XPrize is a nonprofit organization founded more than twenty years ago that designs and runs competitions to address a variety of global challenges. Funding comes from corporations, government bodies, private foundations and other sources. Current competitions include the IBM Watson AI XPrize (to use artificial intelligence to help address global challenges), NRG Cosia Carbon XPrize (to convert carbon dioxide emissions into valuable products), Adult Literacy XPrize (to create mobile applications for smart devices to improve literacy), Shell Ocean Discovery XPrize (to advance the capabilities for ocean exploration) and Google Lunar XPrize (to develop low-cost methods for robotic space exploration). Past competitions include the Wendy Smith Oil Cleanup XChallenge (for sensors useful for assessing ocean acidification), Nokia Sensing XChallenge (for sensors and software to monitor personal health) and the Ansari XPrize (for manned spacecraft). For more details, go to: www.xprize.org.

Let’s hope the Water Abundance XPrize achieves its goal. Then, we’ll all really share the prize.

rosenzweigweb.jpgMARK ROSENZWEIG is Chemical Processing's Editor in Chief. You can email him at mrosenzweig@putman.net.