California fire crews drink water pulled from thin air

An Israeli company is helping America’s disaster victims and first responders

Watergen sends Israeli water-making machine to assist massive wildfires.

Abigail Klein Leichman

An emergency response vehicle (ERV) carrying an innovative Israeli machine that pulls pure drinking water directly out of ambient air is on its way to California, to provide hydration to police and firefighters dealing with the aftermath of two massive wildfires that have taken at least 87 lives and destroyed over 10,000 homes and businesses.

The vehicle and the GEN-350 atmospheric water generator were sent by Watergen USA, the American subsidiary of the Israeli company that invented the system.

“The chairman of our company in Israel believes very strongly in humanitarian efforts to assist those who have lost everything in California,” said Yehuda Kaploun, president of Watergen USA. Company CEO Ed Russo pointed out that aid workers can serve for longer periods of time if they have adequate drinking water. He also noted that the GEN-350 reduces the number of plastic bottles needed in disaster areas, and the number of vehicles required to haul bottled drinking water to parched survivors and rescue workers.

The 1,760-pound (800-kilogram) Watergen GEN-350 can produce up to 155 gallons (600 liters) of water per day from the air. The unit has an internal water-treatment system and needs no infrastructure to operate except electricity, which is supplied from a generator and charging stations on the ERV.

Watergen USA has launched a Go Fund Me campaign to bring an additional ERV and a GEN-350 to California. Contributions will help bring water and hope to numerous disaster victims.

The water-from-air miracle underscores the global leadership role that innovative Israeli companies have played in recent decades – from drip irrigation systems that conserve water and turn deserts into fruit and vegetable gardens … to systems that recycle household “gray” water into irrigation water for crops … to desalination systems that convert Mediterranean Sea water into 90% of all the water Israelis now drink, while also providing drinking water to Palestinian and Jordanian areas.

Watergen USA’s ERV previously brought a GEN-350 unit to Florida following Hurricane Michael in October. The company partnered there with World Central Kitchen, an organization of chefs working to fight hunger and poverty, to prepare food for hurricane victims.

“Watergen USA was pleased to partner with world-class chefs to assist in the rescue efforts to provide people with gourmet meals using the world’s best chefs and using the world’s best water,” said Kaploun.

California first responders and residents hope this new partnership with Watergen will make things a little better in fire and flood-devastated areas.

 

 

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90 thoughts on “California fire crews drink water pulled from thin air

  1. Hey a giant mobile dehumidifier.

    Seems like just the thing you want in a dry, parched environment: to make it drier.

    • This is not a dehumidifier. The water used to extinguish the fire evaporates and returns to the atmosphere.

      • Actually, that’s exactly what it is: a dehumidifier. Simply because the collected moisture is subsequently returned to the atmosphere does not change its function.
        It’s a convenient way to extract moisture form areas where no surface water exists, but it comes at an energy cost.
        TANSTAFL

        • “Actually, that’s exactly what it is: a dehumidifier. Simply because the collected moisture is subsequently returned to the atmosphere does not change its function.” –

          and that’s gone with the wind – other you stored it in the Watergen GEN-350.

  2. “…water-from-air miracle…”
    It is just condensation by cooling the air below it’s dew point. The simple process that happens in millions of air conditioner units all over the world. Also happens naturally every evening when the temperature drops below the dew point. The water that comes from it called “dew”. Or in this case “miracle”.

    • “Is on its way to California” … “California fire crews drink water pulled from thin air”. Are California fire crews on their way to California?

      • The more below the dew point the more water precipitates. Ideally down to just above freezing.
        Could go down even below that but the return is diminishing and then an extra step would also be needed to melt the ice from the coils.

      • However, as much as I like thunderfoot’s video debunks, he is all in on the AGW scam.

        Of course, he would probably be out of a job if he didn’t toe the current political line on AGW.

    • In certain situations (including this one, given the closed roads), it’s viable. The horrific economics of the situation just means that it’s a niche situation usage.

      • Hard to imagine a situation where this would be viable. If the roads are closed do you think you are going to fly this mobile rig in? It also consumes a lot of fuel, one of the references says 1 litre of fuel per 8 litres of water.

  3. “The 1,760-pound (800-kilogram) Watergen GEN-350 can produce up to 155 gallons (600 liters) of water per day from the air.”

    OK, so they can make 155 gallons per day, the weight of the water is 1240 pounds. This is less than the 1760 pound weight of the dehumidifier.
    But wait! There is More!

    “The unit has an internal water-treatment system and needs no infrastructure to operate except electricity, which is supplied from a generator and charging stations on the ERV.”

    Add in weight of the generator *and* its fuel and the whole package weighs a lot more than the water produced. If they really wanted to provide water, they would just use a water tank and make a trip to refill once every two days. (I wonder how often they need to refuel the generator.)

    Disaster whores, pimping a useless product.
    Shameless.

    • I”d find it probable that water brought in a tank would be more sustainable. A lorry can easily bring 20 times more water in one day, and the biggest vehicles may draw tens of thousands of liters.

      600L is nothing compared to a truck packed with 40,000L water, and the price of the latter is almost nothing in terms of electricity and gasoline.

      So what to say about this? It is marketing of a already failed product. As a gesture, it works.

    • Could you explain why the weight of the product determines whether the water it produces is useless?

      Remember, the product is expected to run for more than one day at a time.

      • Once on site, it will continue to produce water and the only consumable will be diesel for the generator.

  4. “The chairman of our company in Israel believes very strongly in humanitarian efforts to assist those who have lost everything in California,”

    Oy. A sick marketing scheme. Some guys have no shame. BTW, does this mean they will not help people who have only lost alot, but not all, of their “things”.

  5. Seems to be a waste of good electricity to make 155 gallons per day, when it is probably much cheaper and convenient to just haul in a 1000 gallon water tank on wheels. While it is good to refine the technology to have the most efficient technology, there are few applications where you should waste good electricity to recover humidity from the atmosphere. Nothing wrong with the technology…just where and when to use it.

    I have seen a much better version of this that is just a simple solar sink that uses the low grade heat to condense water out of the atmosphere and uses no electricity. Having something like that might make sense if it doesn’t cost an arm and a leg. If I lived in a desert environment and had something like that made a barrel a day of water out of thin air that used no electricity, then that might be worth something to help fill a small cistern along with rain water.

    • …a water truck will haul in 11,000 gals at one time….with exactly the same amount of gas
      …minus the generator
      If they can get this contraption in there…they can get a water truck in there

      • “Seems to be a waste of good electricity to make 155 gallons per day” as I said.

        However, is the 11,000 gallons of water in the water potable drinking water? And how much do you have to pay for those 11,000 gallons of water? What is the truck worth per hour and the cost of fuel etc? We would have to consider all the variables for a true cost/benefit analysis, although I think hauling larger tanks of potable drinking water makes more sense if the roads are open. And there is the cost of the ‘contraption’, and hauling it around. This is what we supposed to do here… tear it all apart and see if it makes any sense.

        There is a place for this energy intensive contraption, but I don’t think for drinking water in California, at least not this one. A passive solar/humidifier may make some sense if they can be built cheap enough. If I was stuck on a sailboat in the middle of the Pacific and my desalinator quit working, I sure would want this tech to survive, especially a solar one if I ran out of gas. Nothing wrong with the technology, it just has to find its right niche application.

  6. It seems to me that bottled water is the perfect solution. This is just a gimmick, and an expensive one.

  7. My curiosity got the better of me. Went to the company website and found that it takes 5.6 Kw/hr to run this 24/7 for 155 gallons (600 litres) Or 330Wh/litre, so based on that, 198 Kw/h to make make 600L. Let’s use .12 cents/Kwh as if this is grid connected (no generator please) so that is $23.76 for 155 gallons or 15.2 cents/gallon. (.0396 cents/litre)

    At 4 cents a litre or 15 cents a gallon, this is cheaper than buying and hauling in water bottles. Especially if you require 100% safe drinking water. But that is using electricity at .12 cents/Kwh. A generator will cost 5x as much, so now you are talking 20 cents/litre, or .60 cents a US gallon. Probably still cheaper to haul in a 1000 gallon tank of potable drinking water on wheels.

    But I can see an application for something like a military outpost, or some exploration rig, and you need 600 litres of pure drinking water a day. Actually cheaper than buying bottled water at the grocery store, but then I always wondered why anyone would pay more for a bottle of water than for a gallon of gas.

      • Tell me that isn’t true…that’s when everybody has peak solar. Is that to convince everybody to install more rooftop solar, or to discourage them to shut off the A/C? That’s going to cost a lot to charge a car as well, if you can’t charge off peak hours.

        • Actually, the reason electricity is so expensive in California is the green progressives demand for expensive renewable energy… and they oppose hydroelectric. To make solar and wind LOOK economic, you need to greatly increase the cost of electricity. Here in Virginia, the Democrats just approved an off-shore wind installation that will produce wholesale power for an obscene $0.78 per kw-hr. Local nuclear plants (also being banned in California) produce that for 3 cents. But hey, the green religion demand sacrifices.

    • Earthling2 – Taking those calculations a bit farther…
      A small generator producing 5.6kW should consume less than 150 liters of fuel per day. Logistically, each liter of fuel transported to the site thus produces 4 liters of potable water. With a larger, more efficient generator powering multiple units, it’s about 8 liters of water per liter of fuel. The dehumidifier comes out way ahead even before accounting for the fuel consumed by the transport vehicle.

    • City water where I live is 10 cents per cubic foot ( 8.x gallons ) So it would be much cheaper to back a truck up to the city water supply and fill it that way.

      Using a dehumidifier to make water is vastly more expensive than just using the truck to bring water to begin with.

  8. Oops, there is no grid power in active fire areas, so back to a genset burning $3+ gasoline.
    Besides, 600 liters doesn’t go very far when 3000 people are needed hydration.
    Water is hauled continuously in fires. CalFire hires
    dozens of contract haulers for each fire. Anthony will recognize the guy in Shasta with the fleet of jellybean colored trucks.

  9. How much electricity does this air conditioner use? No information in the article. On their website, 5.6 kW operating power, the same draw as a 1.6 ton AC unit (cools a small home). This produces at most 600 liters of water per day -but unlikely in a dry climate like the central valley of California. Not really a very good use of our resources.

  10. This would be an excellent device to survive in an apokalyptic desert far away from civilization.
    Is CA already such a place?
    Otherwise a truck with fresh bottled water once a week is much more efficient.

  11. It the same scam as the free energy from the air with high tech wind turbines. Bend the thermodynamics and ladel it all with loads of spin, compliant experts and naive journalists.

  12. Alexander Graham Bell, inventor of the telephone, worked on the problem.

    The inventor of the telephone tried to solve the problem of drinking water for castaways. He worked, however, from the angle of condensing moisture from the atmosphere. His simpllest plan was to float a tumbler on the ocean’s surface. If sea-water temperature was below the dew point, moisture would condense in the tumbler. “but how fast?” Bell wondered. “Even a dew would be nectar to a thirsty man. But if it is no more, than a dew (adieu) to the man.” Popular Science, Jan. 1944 p.42

    • They are called solar stills. They are sometimes packed in emergency kits, and they work fairly well on an ocean. Not bountiful, but enough for short term. Near-useless in a desert.

  13. Finally – they’ve cracked the problem of how to remove greenhouse gas from the atmosphere!

    Climate problem solved.

    The job’s a good-un.

    • That’s hilarious! Absolute useless toys. 16 of the largest units could run the water machine for a few hours per day around noon on sunny summer days.
      Too bad its winter now. You should learn about arithmetic, Griff.

  14. I think Thunderf00t and Dave Jones of EEVBlog will have a few words to say about this – one would be scam.

  15. oh ffs a dehumidifier.

    Its a dehumidifier a big one 😀 “Innovative”, no, we know this for decades and we do it all the time, this is just a big dehumidifier

    and the energy needed for the water you get… lol

    This is something that would never ever be useful on any sort of large scale, unless money is free.

    All of the attempts to economically pull water from the air, have been utter failures because there is just NOT enough moisture

  16. “The chairman of our company in Israel believes very strongly in humanitarian efforts to assist those who have lost everything in California,”

    Weird… Israel can supply water to Americans (who just gave them $13bn to buy weapons), but people living in Gaza (yes, they are people) face a dire water situation, thanks to the deliberate and illegal policies of Israel. Nice.

    https://www.oxfam.org/en/occupied-palestinian-territory-and-israel/failing-gaza-undrinkable-water-no-access-toilets

    • Typical Marxist dishonesty.

      So the British should have given water to the Germans that were attacking them.

    • … from your referenced article …

      “However, Gaza’s chronic water crisis predates the war and requires a massive injection of funds and equipment to provide clean water and toilets.”

      If you need to exaggerate to make your point, then you must realize that there is something lacking in your point of view.

  17. When it comes to Israel, everybody in this comment sections thinks they can do it better and cheaper. But they never do, do they? Israel, again, comes to the rescue because Israel DID IT!

  18. So many commenters on this page they this can be done better and cheaper, no big deal. But none of did it because they can’t! Israel DID IT!

  19. Israel has been surviving on the razors edge.
    You’ve heard the saying “hit back twice as hard”, they hit back 10 times as hard and have really competent intelligence agents.

    • You mean like operation Wrath of God revenge for the Munich massacre when a team of Mossad agents shot and killed Ahmed Bouchiki, a Moroccan waiter unrelated to the Munich attack and Black September, mistakenly identified Bouchiki as Salameh.
      After five unsuccessful attempts, Mossad had assassinated Salameh.
      However, the blast also killed four innocent bystanders,
      including a British student and a German nun, and injured 18 other people in the vicinity.

      • Those that act make mistakes and those that act more make many more mistakes, Mossad obviously made a few.
        But i just learned from you that OSS, SAS, etc are not competent.,

        Should we also talk about drone attacks mistakes?

        or the 0 number of attack by most European countries. There is also responsibilities by omission.

        But i am sure your intention is precisely that Jeff, fostering omission.

        • Speaking of omission, I found it interesting that the Spielberg historical film “Munich”, which was an account of Operation Wrath of God, completely omitted the killing of the innocent Moroccan waiter in Lillehammer, Norway.

          “Bouchikhi and his pregnant wife had gone to see a movie. After taking a bus back and getting off at a bus stop, they began slowly walking back home. As they were in sight of their home, a car with four Mossad agents pulled up beside them. While two stayed in the car to provide cover, the other two got out and shot Bouchikhi 13 times with a 22 caliber pistol, his wife witnessing the shooting”

          “Six other members of the team, four men and two women, were arrested before they could escape. Two agents were caught in a getaway car they were using again without having changed the license plates while trying to get to an airport the day after the assassination. ”

          “The revelations of the captured agents dealt a massive blow to the secret infrastructure of the Mossad in Europe. The captured agents were interrogated over the operation. One of them, Dan Arbel, became extremely nervous as soon as his cell door shut due to his extreme claustrophobia, and provided many details on the operation in exchange for being transferred to a larger cell with a small window.”

          That last bit made me LOL to be honest.

  20. Publicity stunt.
    “Go Fund Me campaign .. Contributions will help bring water and hope to numerous disaster victims.”
    Yer right

    • Jeff, can you show me the “Go Fund Me” campaign” that you are whining about ? I am not associated with any religion in any way (agnostic), but I detest cheap shots at a country that must fight for survival EVERY snip day !

      If I get banned (again) for this comment, I don’t care, I will not stand by (like the French and British in 1938) while innocent people attempting to live a normal life get continually bombed !

      STOP THE LIES ! MAGA

      • Sorry for the “snipped” remark, I get overheated sometimes, especially when it comes down to Israel…which is weird, considering I am non religious ….

        • You wrote in the comment you apologized for with what I too think and feel. I’m sure you’re forgiven, and I applaud you. It sickens me the way so many ignorant people turn everything around to blame Israel for everything.

  21. I thought California is quite dry. Air at 10% relative humidity has a dew point below freezing and humidity must reach about 20% before the dew point exceeds freezing. Sacramento California, for example has on average a relative humidity below 10% for over 7 months of the year. I expect a dehumidifier “water maker” will have a hard time extracting much water from such dry air.

  22. Many years ago a Australian inventer produced a water from air machine. It was a windmill and did not require any external power . It never took off, the financial world was not interested.

    It was featured on the ABC “New Inventers”show and apparently worked very well, . It was tested in the Australian desert.

    MJE

    • “Many years ago a(n) … Australian inventer..(inventor)..produced a water from air machine. It was a windmill and did not require any external power . It never took off, the financial world was not interested.”

      ” the financial world was not interested ” because it was then, as now, “unreliable”

      The Auzzie P.M. (about the same time) built multi-million dollar “desalination” plants to help against the “projected” droughts caused by “Climate Change”…As far as I know, they have never been turned on…

  23. So how much diesel fuel does it take to run the generator to make 155 gallons of water a day? It seems to me that logistically, if you have to truck in the fuel to run a generator, then what’s the real savings if you are just swapping a diesel tanker for a water tanker? It would seem that you need to commit an onsite person to oversee the water manufacture operation, whereas just tanking in the water to sit on a skid/flatbed on site would not.

    Don’t get me wrong, I think running a dehumidifier to make potable water is a clever use of an existing technology for recycling purposes in a “closed” environment where everything has to be imported like a space station, ship or island. I am a strong advocate of recovering “manufactured water” (condensate from HVAC systems) for use in landscape irrigation systems and cooling tower makeup systems.

  24. Wow, the negativity and pooh-poohing on this thread are astounding.
    Show me, people, your patents, your businesses providing plentiful potable water at a lower cost in disaster areas.

    You don’t have any, right? So please shut up and recognize that this system is something. Not perfect, but better than nothing.

  25. So, this unit is mounted on a truck.
    How hard would it be to fill a milk trucks 8,000 gallon tank with potable water and drive it to where the firefighters are?
    Ok, that 8k tank is a tractor trailer unit. A 4k gallon milk truck is usually a smaller unit that is able to travel on marginal roads.
    Or you could also put three 55 gallon food grade plastic drums in a pickup and deliver right to the crews.
    Those plastic drums are $75 each, new.
    Paradise to a Oroville potable hydrant is roughly a 30 mile round trip.
    For the cost of the water produced with these, you could probably sling load the potable water to firefighters with a helicopter.
    There are places where a solar powered water from air units are needed, but for a firefighting crew, not so much.

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