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TECH: How Technology can Help Combat Global Water Crisis
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How Technology can Help Combat
Global Water Crisis
By Stella Law

BT 201903 tech 02技术如何帮助对抗





我们不仅需要认识到水是宝贵的资源,而且需要更好地管理,重视和保护水资源; 我们需要采取切实可行的措施来投资有助于缓解迫在眉睫的全球水危机的技术。

#1 WaterSeer

#2 Fog Catchers

#3 The Janicki Omni 处理器
Janicki Omni Processor是一种废物处理设施,可以将人类粪便转化成电力、灰烬以及饮用水。

BT 201903 tech 03As global population soars and agriculture expands to feed our constantly growing towns and cities, intensive extraction is leading to fast depletion of water tables across continents.

Let’s do a fact check for some perspective:

● According to the World Health Organization (WHO), by the year 2025, half of the world’s population will be struggling to survive in water-stressed areas.

● By the year 2035, energy consumption all over the world will increase by 35% which will, in turn, raise water usage by 15%.

● Rising population is expected to drive a whopping 55% growth in water demand, including a 400% rise in manufacturing water demand.

● If we look at satellite images, the Colorado river basin has lost approximately 65 cubic kilometres of water from 2004 till 2013. Such examples are in abundance across continents.

Not only do we need to recognize that water is a precious resource and that it needs to be better managed, valued and conserved; but we also need to take practical steps to invest in technology that can help mitigate the looming global water crisis. While not being perfect, the technologies we are going to zoom in today have shown the potential to be of great help on that front.

#1 WaterSeer

BT 201903 tech 04The process of extracting clean drinkable water from salt water is expensive and time-consuming. That is why the US-based VICI Labs has created a contraption that can pull moisture from the atmosphere and extract up to 11 gallons of clean water per day. This machine is called a WaterSeer.

Planted six feet below the surface, its lower chamber is surrounded by cool Earth. The device blows wind into the underground chamber, where eventually water is extracted with condensation.

While the idea is quite ambitious, critics say that the device won’t work in arid climates. Field trials for the device were held in Berkeley, California where half and quarter-scale models of WaterSeer managed to pull about 300 millilitres of water in a span of 3 hours.

Critics are also of the view that the device could only work during the day when the ground is cooler than the air above. During night time, the air above is cooler than the ground which will restrict its functioning.

#2 Fog Catchers

BT 201903 tech 05This device, what one could say, makes water appear out of thin air. Literally!

Aptly christened as fog catchers, vast mesh nets are set up to capture the moisture from fog and collect in trays after condensation. The water is quickly collected and is clean to use. Also called “fog harvesting”, this process was set up on a massive scale on Mount Boutmezguida in Morocco.

Dar Si Hmad, a non- profit organization responsible for this ingenious initiative, was awarded UN’s 2016 Momentum for Change award. The system was first developed in South America and later on established in Ghana, Peru, California and South Africa.

Critics say that this system although can provide a supply of water for small communities, is difficult to rely on it for increased water supplies.

#3 The Janicki Omni Processor

BT 201903 tech 06The Janicki Omni Processor has quite an ingenious idea behind water harvesting. It uses human faeces to extract clean drinkable water. Despite sounding gross, the machine does present a revolutionary way to process waste and extract drinking water.

Created by Sedro-Woolley, Washington based company Janicki Bioenergy, the machine collects sewage and moves it up on a conveyor belt where it is boiled into water vapour. The water vapour then runs through a cleaning process to produce clean drinking water. It runs at a temperature of 1000 degrees Celsius and does not leave a nasty stink.

The Bill Gates foundation has backed this device, which not only turns raw sewage into drinking water, but also produces electricity and pathogen-free ash. Bill Gates himself witnessed the process of faeces turning into water, tasted it and wrote about in a blog post. He said "The water tasted as good as any I’ve had out of a bottle. And having studied the engineering behind it, I would happily drink it every day. It’s that safe."

This technology could greatly benefit many developing countries, where rivers are polluted with sewage every single day.

BT 201903 tech 07Conclusion

‘Water, water everywhere… Not a drop to drink!’ These lines from “The Rime of the Ancient Mariner,” by Samuel Taylor Coleridge, could become the sad truth of our future, if we do not pay heed right now!

It is crucial that technological innovations, like the above, receive generous investment, as they can prove to be vital in resolving the future water crisis. Innovations like these need an interdisciplinary approach from development and technology sectors, as they can provide futuristic and long term solutions.

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