Pure Water Supply from Atmospheric Humidity

Pure Distilled Water for Third World Village Residents

A High-Performance Natural Water Still, but with NO flame or fire!

First placed on the Internet in March 2008

  • The moderate-sized American room I am sitting in while composing this contains about 2,380 cubic feet of air. At the normal temperature (72°F) and humidity (40% IRH) that Americans like, this is about 176 pounds of dry air in the room. At that IRH, it contains about 1.33 pounds (or 0.6 liter) of humidity as absolutely pure water. I cannot see that humidity, but there is more than 1.3 pint of absolutely pure (distilled) water RIGHT IN THIS ROOM! And in EVERY room! My house nearly always contains about 2.4 gallons or about 9 liters of humidity inside it. This system could only extract about half a gallon of that water from within the house, but outdoor air continully circulates through a house to replace it with more humid air.
    You can use the automatic calculator down below to calculate the atmospheric water now in your room around you.

  • You have noticed that when you have a glass of iced soda, that often droplets of water form on the OUTSIDE of the glass. There are people who think that water is seeping through the glass, but that is not true! What is actually happening is that the cold liquid INSIDE the glass causes the glass itself to get cold (which you know). THEN, when WARM room air happens to pass near that cool glass, the AIR cools down. IF it cools down enough, and if the humidity in the room is high enough, the air cools to below the Dewpoint. What that means is that the cooler air cannot then contain as much water vapor as it normally had, and so droplets of absolutely pure water MUST form on the cool surface as some of the water condenses.

  • This is also why fog occurs (in that case, the water droplets condense around tiny specks of dust in the air) or why basement walls are often damp or why some windows can have water or even ice form on them in winter.

  • Sometimes in the morning, you see a whole yard full of dewdrops on lawn grass. This occurs because the grass had cooled during the night and normally warm and humid air condenses on every blade of cooled grass. This is actually sometimes gallons of very pure (distilled) water as dew, which might seem collectible, but which will simply naturally evaporate as the grass warms in the morning sun. The system described here buries an underground slightly tilted airpath, where the naturally humid air is sent down through a very cool underground passageway so many droplets of water form on the inside walls of the cool tube. The slight tilt, like as in a house rain gutter, lets the water flow to one end where a pot or tank can collect it. We maximized the performance of this water collection with modern Engineering techniques.

  • These water droplets that form are PERFECTLY PURE water, also called distilled water. All you would need to do would be to collect all those droplets! THAT is what this system does, but on a far more organized basis and far more efficiently.

  • This is such a simple and inexpensive system that it DOES have a couple of complications. If your climate is such that the air is dusty, you may need to add a simple cloth air filter over the tube inlet, or else the resulting (pure) water can look whitish from suspended dust in the water, which is no safety issue but is easy to eliminate. You could also use a filter, even a carbon filter, when pouring the water from your collection pot into a glass. The other 'complication' is actually not a complication at all! Since this system creates SUCH pure water, it even removes (nearly) all the dissolved minerals that normal water contains which gives it a pleasant taste and sweetness. Again, no safety issues here, but there are easy ways to add appropriate minerals to flavor the water!

  • In the news, you hear of 'water purifiers' which brag about providing safe drinking water. Such devices are astoundingly expensive (often more than a million dollars), huge and heavy (where they cannot easily be transported to remote third world locations), they require continuous supplies of diesel fuel (to power some high pressure pumps they require) and they break down so that a very expensive Technician is nearly constantly required to clean or replace nano-filters or repair equipment. On top of that, those RO (Reverse Osmosis) devices can never make PURE water, but only water which just barely qualifies as potable (drinkable) at 500 parts per million of remaining contaminants. Our NATURAL system of removing humidity from local air is cheap, simple, does not require ANY electricity or diesel, and never breaks down or clogs! And it provides water that is essentially ZERO ppm of contaminants, absolutely pure!

  • By sending normal warm daytime outdoor air through a COOL UNDERGROUND tube that is deep enough and long enough, some of the humidity in the air can condense on the tube walls. If that water is then collected, it is essentially distilled water, very pure! If the tube is slightly sloped downhill, similar to a house rain gutter, the water droplets run down to a pot where you can collect the pure water!

  • This is a very simple and inexpensive system which virtually cannot ever break down! Depending on the climate, two gallons to ten gallons of perfectly pure water is EASILY produced and collected each day. Some modifications can increase that performance a LOT, and they are described below. Instructions and a calculator will even help you predict how much pure water YOU could get each day!

  • You have certainly seen water dripping from window air conditioners. You probably never realized how extremely PURE that water is! (Although you should not drink it as some air conditioners have lead solder inside them which is dangerous) You may also know that central air conditioners condense as much as 12 quarts (3 gallons) of humidity from the air (per day) in the process of cooling it. Dehumidifiers do the same thing with the INTENTION of removing humidity from the air (by cooling the air briefly!) The water flow through the drain hose of any air conditioner is easily confirmed and is quite impressive!

  • Maybe you think that only an irrelevantly small amount of water exists as humidity in the air. That is not the case! If the entire Earth's atmosphere is considered, we know that about 4,000,000,000,000,000 gallons of water is always in it! There are over 7 billion people now living, but that means that there is enough humidity in the total atmosphere where around 6,000,000 gallons of water could theoretically be provided for every single one of us! And it gets replaced every day as warm ocean waters evaporate over 3/4 of the Earth's surface area!

    It is certainly true that over a desert, the humidity is lower, but it is never zero! The water production of this simple system is much less in a desert than in a tropical rain forest, but it ALWAYS can work!

  • This process of sending air through underground (cool) tubes has long been the process of our "free air conditioning" system, but this case is different in that we intentionally send HUMID outdoor air through the tubes rather than less humid house air.

  • A consistent 2 gallons of water per day is usually produced by the BASIC system, but additional features can easily increase this to many gallons per day (above 200 gallons per day is fairly easy to accomplish).

  • Existing methods of purifying contaminated water (commonly RO or Reverse Osmosis) are all incredibly expensive (on the order of a million dollars per installation or more); they require large and consistent supplies of diesel fuel, to power the high pressure pumps (as high as 1180 PSI) note 4
    which are needed to force the water through filters which have incredibly small holes in them; those filters clog up regularly and require Technicians to constantly be cleaning and repairing them; and all those tons of equipment can rarely be transported to remote locations to be installed; in addition, the water that is produced is barely safe to drink, generally having 500 ppm of contaminants still in it, where our low-expense system provides virtually PURE water!

  • In fact, we have Engineered a larger-scale Municipal system which might be used in Pure Desalinated Seawater for Port-au-Prince, Haiti after their earthquake, to provide 700 gallons or 3,000 gallons of perfectly pure distilled water there every day, and all for a total cost of roughly $10,000, and it is installable in possibly a single day. If they chose to install twenty such systems, they might nearly immediately be able to supply as much as 60,000 gallons of pure water to combat the many severe diseases that are spreading due to people having to use contaminated water. This Municipal system is a Desalinization variant of this humidity condensation system, and of much larger scale than this presentation generally discusses. That system is also suitable for many other places where pure water supplies are limited and ocean water is available, such as Indonesia, Bangladesh, India, Egypt or most islands.

This presentation was first placed on the Internet in March 2008.

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Here is a very simple, very inexpensive system to provide absolutely pure water for remote Third World Villages that otherwise do not have easy sources for safe drinking water. It is essentially a natural dehumidifier, which causes some of the moisture that is always in the air as humidity to be condensed out in a cool underground pipe-tunnel, even in semi-arid regions near deserts. Ten gallons (40 liters) of absolutely pure distilled water per day is very realistic for many climates.

You are probably familiar with the fact that during the summer, concrete basement walls are often damp or even wet. That occurs because the warm outdoor humid air gets into the basement, and when it passes near the colder concrete wall or floor, it cools and loses some of its ability to hold moisture. If the air drops to a temperature low enough, then some of the moisture has to condense into water droplets. That is essentially the concept used here, but this system uses an enclosed chamber to keep the water purer.

You may be familiar with a survival procedure taught to travelers to remote areas, where they spread a small sheet of plastic suspended above the ground. The relatively cool ground beneath it causes the plastic to (often) be cooler than the hot daytime air, and some humidity (moisture) in the air can condense into droplets on that cooler plastic, and then be collected to drink to survive. That very crude method enables capturing a very small amount of the humidity in the air. The system described here is a far more sophisticated and far more effective way of doing that same process.

OK. You are skeptical! How can there be much water in the atmosphere? And, in SOME climates, such as deserts, that concern is valid. Humidity data for a location near Chicago. But look at this graph of the outdoor relative humidity for a location near Chicago, Illinois, USA. See that the outdoor relative humidity is amazingly high in nearly all months! In the morning, it is nearly always at least 80% and in the afternoon when it is usually lowest, it is still generally over 60%. There is a LOT of water in the atmosphere as humidity!

In the Summer, it works impressively. In the winter, the moisture is still in the air, but the ground is probably not cold enough to cause it to condense there. So, for a climate like Chicago, only about six to eight months of substantial water production is possible with the basic system. However, the (discussed) addition of a $200 accessory, an HG 3a device can produce even larger quantities of water every day of the year, and THAT is true in ANY climate, even a desert!

Roughly two billion of the six billion people living on Earth now do not have adequate supplies of safe drinking water and water for adequate cleaning and bathing. Many people have to walk hours to obtain small amounts of borderline quality water on which to try to survive. This amazingly simple device can provide PLENTY of water for MOST of those people!

All atmospheric air contains some moisture, water, which we call humidity. If that air is COOLED, its "RELATIVE" humidity increases, because cooler air cannot contain as much moisture in it. If it is possible to cool it enough, the air gets to 100% relative humidity, and the saturated air starts having tiny droplets of water condense out on cooler surfaces. That water is PERFECTLY PURE water that is called Distilled water.

NOTICE: The system described here is SEALED. The air inside the underground tube and any water in the soil CANNOT mix! This is EXTREMELY important! Otherwise, any sewage in the groundwater or pesticides or industrial contaminants in the soil or the groundwater might be able to seep into the pure distilled water that this system creates.

We have found that for many environments, simply blowing hot daytime air through a COOL underground tube, is able to cool the air enough for the condensation to occur. A Chart and also an automatic Calculator below provides the necessary information to know how many gallons of perfectly pure distilled water can be obtained in this way, directly from the atmosphere! (If any local supply of groundwater happens to be available, no matter how contaminated it might be, the performance of this system can even be greatly increased!)

If you live in a cold climate, and ever wear glasses, you know that if you have been outdoors where the glass has gotten cold, that when you enter a warm house, your glasses immediately fog up! What happens is that the warm humid air of the house cools down when it gets near anything cold, such as the glass, and that cooler air cannot contain as much moisture as when it was warmer. If the room is humid enough and the glass is cool enough, the (local) relative humidity gets up to 100% and tiny droplets of water condense out of the air onto the surface of the glasses. (A minute later, the glasses warm up and this problem ends.) Similarly, if house windows are single-pane, on cold winter days, room humidity condenses on the cold window glass and droplets of water form, and can even freeze into ice!

This new system operates in a way that is also somewhat similar to how a solar still works, except that the Sun is not necessary, no sheets of glass are necessary, and not even any source for contaminated water is necessary! Rather than a solar still HEATING water to increase the humidity inside the chamber, so that it will condense on a relatively cooler glass cover panel, this approach uses the fact that deep underground, the soil is naturally cooler than the daytime summer air temperature note 3

All of these things occur because warm air can hold more water vapor in it than cooler air can, and that the deep soil is always cooler than the air temperature during hot summer days, and usually during winter days as well.

This amazingly simple and inexpensive system can realistically supply 10 gallons (40 liters) of perfectly pure water every day! There is essentially nothing which can break down, so it should reliably provide water for many, many years.

Basic setup, which can be modified in many ways for locally available materials and conditions:


We are showing the warm humid daytime air as the red arrow at the right of this drawing, where it goes into and down through an inexpensive PVC 4" plastic new pipe arrangement. As tiny droplets of water form on the cool inner walls of the buried pipe, gravity causes them to flow downward to collect in the bottom of the Tee shown. A small pipe goes downward from there to a storage tank or simply a kitchen pot. The air continues upward and out, shown now as light blue to indicate that the air has actually also been cooled by the cooler ground, as well as the desired dehumidification that provided the pure water.

We show that the pipe must be at least one meter deep to be in cool soil that is not heated by summer heat. Deeper is ALWAYS better! The length of the underground pipe should be as long as is possible. If only a short pipe is used (say 16 meters or 50 feet) it will work fine for a while, but that deep soil will gradually get heated up by the hot air constantly going through the tube, and the effect gets reduced. Thirty meters or 100 feet should give very reliable water supply for most climates. Longer is ALWAYS better!

If the summer air is around 120°F (49°C) temperature, and the outdoor relative humidity is just 30%, then every pound of that air contains about 0.022 pound of water in it as water vapor. This is standard thermodynamics information, as shown in the Psychrometric Chart presented and discussed below.

If this air can be de-humidified so that it becomes around 20% relative humidity, it would then only contain 0.014 pound of water in it. We would capture the difference, around 0.008 pound of water, as actual water droplets. This does not sound like much, but if we send just 1000 pounds of air through our underground tube, this is 8 pounds of water, or around one gallon (4 liters).

The same Psychrometric Chart shows that at that temperature and humidity, one pound of air takes up just over 15.0 cubic feet, so we are talking about 15,000 cubic feet of air. If we hope to produce one gallon (4 liters) of this Distilled Water per hour, we then only need to send around 250 cubic feet of air through the tube every minute (15,000/60), a relatively reasonable airflow.

Depending on the local (daytime) temperature and humidity and the deep ground temperature, two gallons (8 liters) of water produced per hour is generally very realistic! This is roughly 10 gallons (40 liters) of absolutely pure water to drink and for washing and bathing every day! All from a very simple underground tube!

This system can be installed WITH an underground tank and hand-pump, for an entire village, or WITHOUT that tank and pump for a single family (who would place a pot or jug under the water collection pipe underground) (drawings below).

There are actually a variety of ways that this performance can be easily enhanced. All the water that is produced by this system COMES FROM THE AIR. That means that it is absolutely pure water, called Distilled Water. Those accessories simply increase the relative humidity of the air entering the underground tube by evaporating any source of water that might be available, since when that water evaporates from its source, all the contaminants are left and only the pure water evaporates.

Possible Complications

If this system is used without either of the accessory components, where the air which enters the tube is directly from the local atmospheric air, then it is possible that dust or even small sand grains can be carried in that air, and therefore get inside the sloping underground tube. So, in certain climates, it is possible that the resulting water might appear to be slightly cloudy rather than perfectly clear. These are materials which are NOT dissolved in the water. They are generally absolutely safe in water, but they can be removed either by letting the water remain in a container for some time to let such things settle out, or the water could be poured through any of many simple filters to remove such materials.

The only other real complication is that the basic system described here is dependent on the heat from sunlight to evaporate the water into becoming humidity, so the basic system can (usually) only operate during daytime hours. The solution to a larger water production and also 24-hour water production is to include the HG 3a unit as a heat (and water) source.

Technical Information

The following section is some technical info that shows how to determine how much water might be captured from the air in any specific climate. It is based on a standard Psychrometric Chart.

We will use an example of where the air temperature is 120°F (60°C) and the relative humidity is 30%. (Any other local weather conditions can be similarly analyzed). In the Psychrometric Chart below, this is along the very right edge of this chart, at the bottom right end of the red line. We can see that the air contains about 0.022 pound of water in every pound of air (which the chart also shows takes up a little over 15 cubic feet). THIS is the air that we will have enter the start of the buried tube system. As this air is cooled down by contact with the much cooler (70°F or 21°C) walls of the tube, it first cools in a process that is called reversible adiabatic. This means that the Enthalpy of the dry air, the energy content per pound, stays constant during the process. This is represented by our red line toward the left and upward.

We can see that the Relative Humidity percentage keeps rising as the air gets cooled. This is because cool air cannot hold as much moisture as warm air does. This process can continue until the air becomes saturated, or is at what is called the dew-point. Once our air has cooled to around 88°F (31°C), it has gotten up to 100% Relative Humidity, meaning that it cannot hold any more water in it than that.

At this point, the process necessarily moves along the green line in our example, downward and to the left, as the air continues to be cooled in the underground tube. This process is where moisture can condense out of the air, in our case, on the walls of the cool underground tube. By the time it has gotten to the end of the tube and the air is then at around 70°F or 21°C, the Psychrometric Chart shows us that the air which had initially contained 0.022 pound of water per pound of air at the very start of entering the tube, is now fully saturated air which now contains only 0.016 pound of water in it. The remainder of that initial humidity has necessarily condensed into (absolutely pure, distilled) water droplets on the inside of the underground tube. For every pound of air that entered the tube, (0.022 - 0.016 or) 0.006 pound of water forms inside the tube. If 100 cubic feet of air enters the tube every minute, that is about (100 / 15.3) 6.5 pounds of air every minute or 390 pounds of air every hour. This then means that for this situation, (390 * 0.006) 2.4 pounds of water would condense out every hour, around 0.3 gallon per hour. A realistic two gallons of absolutely pure water every day.

Psychrometric Chart

End of technical information!

I have come to realize that I may have been optimistic regarding whether many people could find usefulness in the Psychrometric Chart above! Therefore, I have created a simplified way of getting the needed data, without having to understand the Thermodynamics or Engineering involved! You can use the following automatic calculator to get the results you need, for any location and any circumstances.

Water in the air as humidity
English Metric
Enter Air Temperature:
Enter Relative Humidity (%):
Water in 1000 cubic feet: pounds Water in 1000 cubic meters: Kgrams
Water in 1000 cubic feet: gallons . Water in 1000 cubic meters: liters . .
If local wind (or a blower) is at 12.5 mph (6 m/s) and a single buried 4" tube therefore has 100 cubic feet (2.8 cubic meters) passing through it every minute, then there is around gallons per hour or liters per hour, of water in that air passing through the tube.

We now know the amount of water IN the air. We can also determine how much water would be LEFT in the air after it has passed through the underground tube. Use the same calculator above, but now put in different data: the temperature will be the UNDERGROUND temperature; and the humidity will be 100%, because, in order for any water to have condensed out, the air inside the tube must have risen to 100% at that temperature.

The DIFFERENCE of these two numbers then gives a very accurate estimate of the amount of water that will be condensed out in ANY location and under any circumstances!

An example:

On a sunny day in an African location, the mid-daytime air temperature might be 130°F, and the relative humidity might be 25%. The calculator shows that the air passing through a tube would then contain 1.14 gallons of water per hour. If the deep soil was at 70F, the calculator shows that 0.83 gallons of water would remain in the air, NOT being condensed out, after it passed through the tube. The DIFFERENCE, 0.31 gallon of water per hour, would be what could be collected. In the several hours of daytime sunlight, this could provide an excellent two gallons of absolutely pure water every day!

Another example:

On a sunny summer day near Chicago, IL, USA, the mid-daytime air temperature might be 100°F, and the relative humidity might be 40%. The calculator shows that the air passing through a tube would then contain 0.82 gallon of water per hour. If the deep soil was at 52F, the calculator shows that 0.45 gallons of water would remain in the air, NOT being condensed out, after it passed through the tube. The DIFFERENCE, 0.37 gallon of water per hour, would be what could be collected. In the several hours of daytime sunlight, this could provide an excellent two gallons of absolutely pure water every day!

These are not spectacular amounts of water, but the equipment can easily be installed, it is extremely cheap to obtain, and it can operate entirely automatically, allowing natural winds to blow the air through the tube. It is obviously also possible to dig ten trenches and install ten of these simple underground tubes, to obtain ten times as much water.

Note also that, with this BASIC system, there can be situations when NO water condenses out! If you use the calculator for 80°F soil temperature, the air LEAVING that tube would still contain (up to) 1.14 gallon of water per hour, so with the African example just given, that is GREATER than the amount of water entering the tube. Therefore NONE would condense out, and no pure water would then be collected.

For such situations, it can be useful to build an HG 3a device as well. The normal operation of the HG 3a can naturally produce a consistent 6 pounds (or 0.73 gallon) of water every hour in its exiting air, at a temperature that is often around 150°F. The airflow rate is slower than the natural wind airflow in our examples above, around 1/10 as fast a flow of air. If the soil temperature is 70°F, then around 0.08 gallon of water (due to the 1/10 airflow rate) will be left in that air (every hour) after it has passed through the underground tube. This leaves 0.65 gallon of pure water that would be condensed and collected every hour. Better, it operates 24 hours a day instead of just the few sunny hours that the BASIC setup can do, so it will consistently provide around 16 gallons of pure water every day (24 * 0.65). If we consider the situation where the deep soil temperature is 80°F or let's examine an extreme 90°F deep soil, it will still work fine at providing pure water! Deep soil at 90°F will cause 0.15 gallon of water to remain in the air after it passes through the tube, so we would collect (0.73 - 0.15) or 0.58 gallon of pure water per hour. That is still around 13 gallons of pure water EVERY DAY.

A CONSISTENT 13 gallons to 16 gallons of absolutely pure water every day, essentially anywhere on Earth! And all with a system which involves a total cost of around $300 to $400! The system is very simple, very automatic, and virtually nothing in it can break down. And even if something ever did, local villagers should be able to figure out how to repair the simple devices involved!

The automatic calculator can also be used in estimating the performance of the "pond" variants of the system, whether with or without an HG 3a device being involved. The air temperature inside the chamber over the pond needs to be measured. If the pond is large enough and the sunlight intense enough, the relative humidity inside the chamber can be near 100%, depending on how fast the airflow is removing that air. If an HG 3a device is used, the consistency of that 100% humidity is better assured, and it is then true 24 hours each day rather than only when the sun was providing heat energy to evaporate the water.

An example:

Say that we are able to have our 100 cfm airflow, but that our pond and chamber are able to provide a consistent supply of 120°F air which is at 100% relative humidity. If we enter these numbers in the automated calculator above, we see that 3.53 gallons of water will be in the air entering the tube every hour. If the deep soil temperature is at 80°F, we also see that the air LEAVING the tube will still have 1.14 gallon of humidity in it. This means that this configuration would provide (3.53 - 1.14) 2.39 gallons of perfectly pure water every hour, or around 58 gallons in every 24 hour day.

By arranging a larger pond size or better using solar heat or additional HG 3a devices, this water production could be increased even more, to provide PLENTY of perfectly pure water for nearly any sized village!

If 500 cubic feet of air pass through the tube in a minute, that is around 33 pounds of air (the Chart shows us that the air is around 15.1 pound per cubic foot). This means that around 0.25 pound of water would form inside the tube every minute. This is 15 pounds of water in an hour, or just over two gallons (8 liters) of pure distilled water per hour.

This basic system does not usually work at night, but generally should work well for at least five hours each day, meaning that more than ten gallons (40 liters) of pure safe water would be available from this extremely simple system each day. (One of the possible accessories, the HG 3a unit, enables this system to work 24 hours every day.)

Air needs to be passing through the system. It should NOT be necessary to have to use any blower, because the entrance to the tube could be provided with a wind-vane type of tail to turn the intake into the wind at all times.

However, if the climate is such that a blower is sometimes necessary, the 12-volt blower from a car heater system could be used, powered from a standard 12-volt battery which is charged by a simple windmill, such as a Savonius rotor made of an old 55-gallon drum.

The very simple system shown and described above should be wonderfully useful in many places in the world where water supplies are inadequate. It involves digging a trench to bury the tube, which MUST slope downward, with the entire tube at least three feet (one meter) deep and preferably six feet (two meters) deep. The horizontal run of pipe should be at least 50 feet (16 meters) long, and longer still is better, to ensure that all the air passing through it is sufficiently cooled.

The system as shown only involves maybe $60 of new 4" (10cm) PVC pipe. It could also be created using surplus large diameter pipe that might be locally found. It CANNOT use CORRUGATED pipe, as the water droplets would then be trapped in many puddles inside the tube. It should NOT be made of any pipe or materials that had earlier been used to carry dangerous chemicals. It should also NOT be made of "ceramic drain tiles", because the many joints between the tile sections are likely to leak and lose the precious water being collected, or allow insects or bacteria inside the pipe.

There are countless ways that this system could be created using only locally available materials. For example, if 4" (10 cm) or 6" (15cm) or larger sections of iron pipe are found, they might either be coupled with standard pipe fittings or there are standard rubber couplings and hose clamps that are inexpensive to join two sections of such pipe.

Single Family

This basic system can be made on a small scale for an individual family, where a kitchen pot can be placed under the water collection pipe. This approach obvious requires a pit and ladder for a family member to climb down to get the water container once it has filled. A shutoff valve could be added to allow some amount of water to accumulate inside the system, to fill the container more quickly. Plenty of water for eating and drinking and also sufficient for cleaning food utensils and washing and bathing.

For a Village

On a larger scale for a community, where a larger tank (represented here by a discarded hot water tank) can be connected to the water collection pipe so the tank would gradually fill. A different pipe connection on the water tank could be used to get water from out of the tank. If people would climb down a ladder, they could use the standard draincock of the tank to remove water.

If a village was more prosperous, they could obtain a hand-operated pump, where each family could then pump a few times to get out the water their family needs for that day, into a convenient container.

Notice that for each of these, we show simple natural airflow due to wind, to drive the air through the tube. The intake is able to rotate with the wind with a tail like a weathervane, so that the intake is always able to face into the wind. If that does not provide desirable amounts of water, a funnel might be added to the air intake, to catch more air and force it through the tube. Finally, a blower from an automobile heater might be used to actively blow air through the tube.

These arrangements really only produce significant amounts of water when the air temperature is high, in other words on sunny days near the middle of the day. Therefore, if a blower is used, there is no sense in it running except during those few hours during the daytime.

For Climates Where the Natural Humidity is too Low

There are some climates where the Relative Humidity is normally too low for this system to work. The Psychrometric Chart above is provided so that anyone could quickly and easily determine whether it will work in a specific location and even how much water it should supply.

However, even in climates where the natural Relative Humidity is too low for this system to work, there may still be ways to enable it to provide excellent pure water. In the field near the tube's entrance, a large tarp might be spread out on the ground on which saltwater or other non-potable water might be spread. A second tarp, such as polyethylene, would then be supported several feet above that note 2.

The heat of sunlight would heat the upper tarp and cause the contents of the chamber created to get quite hot, probably even hotter than the 120°F (49°C) we first assumed. More importantly, any water inside that chamber would get heated, with a lot of it evaporating. This would greatly increase the Relative Humidity inside that chamber, possibly even getting up near 100%. In that case, the water there would evaporate (leaving any salt or other contaminants there on the bottom tarp) to raise the Relative Humidity of the air entering the intake tube. As that much higher humidity air has a lot of its moisture condense inside the tube, the system would provide even larger quantities of absolutely pure distilled water. The additional water production is difficult to predict as it is dependent on many variables, but it can be quite significant.


In the event that there is minimal sunlight and heat available in a particular climate, such as on a mountain, the intake air could be pre-heated by a system such as the HG 3a heating system (shown here as a green circle at the right) described in some other pages in this web-site Domain (linked below). It can provide a consistent 130°F (54°C) to 150°F (66°C) heat source twenty-four hours a day, and also extremely high relative humidity, using only dead field grasses and leaves as the energy source! note 1


Finally, BOTH of these accessories can be added to the basic system. In this case, this simple device, in combination with the two rather simple accessories discussed above, can provide as much as ten gallons (40 liters) of perfectly pure Distilled water every hour, 24 hours each day, or 250 gallons (1,000 liters) of water that is pure to a purity even BETTER than when expensive high-tech equipment is used!

Pure Desalinated Seawater Distilled Water for Off-Grid Residents.

Pure Water Supply for Third World Villages.
Pure Desalinated Seawater for Third World Villages.
Pure Distilled Water for Emergencies when Wells are Unusable.
Pure Desalinated Seawater Distilled Water for Off-Grid Residents.

NOTE: The water that is produced by this system CAN appear slightly cloudy! This can occur if the AIR going through the tube has dust particles in it. For any location where the air might contain a lot of dust or even sand particles, it is a good idea to add a filter over the intake to the underground air tube, and/or pour the resulting water through a cloth or better filter. Extremely tiny particles such as cigarette smoke are so tiny that they are harder to filter out, so an even better filter, such as charcoal, might be desirable.


There are some people promoting the idea of collecting water which lands on a house roof, as some guy in Mexico claims to have installed such things on 1500 buildings in Mexico City. That is a REALLY DANGEROUS idea! Around 1990, that idea was promoted (I think then in Africa) and a lot of people got sick and some died as a result. The basic idea seems to have some merit, but there are unavoidable problems. First, birds and animals land on every roof and walk across it, and they leave feces (droppings) on the roof. The next time it rains, all that nasty stuff gets washed down into gutters and downspouts and it winds up in very clear-looking water in cisterns. Virtually every roof collects such nasty materials into the rain water that might be collected off of it. A similar chemical problem exists for most rooves. In the United States, countless millions of rooves have asphalt shingles on them. There is also 'acid rain' which is present nearly everywhere, and that acidic rain can react with some chemicals in the asphalt roofing materials to form some dangerous chemicals. Most rooves also collect a lot of natural dust and tiny organic materials, which are usually more obvious as they tend to cause the collected water to become cloudy color. The dust is usually not dangerous, as discussed above, and a simple carbon filter can get rid of that for impressively clear water!


Brief Functioning of the HeatGreen 3a Device

The chemical reaction of Photosynthesis is generally this one:

(6) H2O + (6) CO2 + sunlight energy gives C6H12O6 + (6) O2.

In words, this says that water from the ground plus carbon dioxide from the air plus the energy from sunlight can produce glucose and free oxygen.

The chemical process of COMPLETE (aerobic) decomposition is exactly the opposite (there are many partial decomposition processes that result in other compounds):

C6H12O6 + (6) O2 gives (6) H2O + (6) CO2 + released energy equal to that absorbed from the sunlight.

In words, this says that glucose combined with oxygen from the air can decompose into water (vapor) and carbon dioxide and a lot of energy, primarily due to the activities of certain types of bacteria which are in soil.

More complex organic molecules such as cellulose are first broken down into glucose to permit this process, gaining some extra energy in the process.

The numbers in parentheses are the number of those molecules which are involved in the reaction. They are important.

In Chemistry, we know that those numbers can be used to describe the number of moles of each compound, so in this case, we have one mole of glucose combines with six moles of oxygen from the air to decompose into six moles of water (vapor) and six moles of carbon dioxide. This tells us the quantities of each which are involved. We need to know the molecular weights of each of the compounds, which are 180, 32 and 18 and 44, respectively. It is then really easy to calculate the WEIGHT of each material involved. 1 * 180 + 6 * 32 gives 6 * 18 + 6 * 44. This is true for any unit of weight/mass: grams, kilograms, ounces, pounds, etc.

We confirm that there is the same amount of mass on both sides, 372 units, which confirms Conservation of Mass. If we use grams, then we now know that 180 grams of glucose will combine with 192 grams of oxygen from the air to create 108 grams of water and 264 grams of carbon dioxide. This natural decomposition occurs worldwide every day, every second.

The important point here is that for every 180 units of weight of glucose that decomposes, there are 108 units of water created. So 180 pounds of glucose will give 108 pounds of water, about 15 gallons (60 liters).

The HG 3a device always has rather high humidity inside it, so when additional water is created like this, it gets carried out and away through the exhaust connection, along with the carbon dioxide (gas) that was also created. In this case, once that hot and humid air gets outside, it cools and most of the moisture in that air condenses into water droplets, which we choose to do inside the cooled underground tube. So, without actually using the large amount of heat that the HG 3a unit produces, if just the exhaust gases are sent into the underground tube, 15 gallons (60 liters) of water will be produced for each 180 pounds of organic material that is allowed to decompose. This is in addition to the moisture in the natural air itself, of the underground tube alone.

Where the underground tube alone can only function during the day, due to the energy of sunlight, when the HG 3a is added, the system can then produce water 24 hours a day. Since the HG 3a can reasonably be expected to decompose about 10 pounds per hour, or 240 pounds per day, this source therefore can provide an additional 20 gallons (80 liters) of absolutely pure distilled water every day. This is true even in an extreme desert climate where the atmospheric humidity is very near zero.

Water Evaporation Bag Functioning

Tarps could be used to enclose any source of water, of any level of contamination by any chemicals. If this is done without using an HG 3a unit, then it will be dependent on sunlight to heat up and evaporate the water, which thereby becomes humidity in air that is sent into the underground tube to condense as pure water. A moderate amount of extra water can be provided in this way, but the exact amount is difficult to calculate since there are many variables that can affect performance, especially regarding the sunlight.

But if this sort of evaporation chamber is combined with a HG 3a device, then the 90,000 Btus of heat that the HG 3a system can generate can all be made to come out with the exhaust gases, and therefore into the evaporation chamber. The heat of vaporization of water is around 970 Btu per pound, with another 70 Btu/pound or so used in heating the water up. This means that the 90,000 Btu/hr heat output that the HG 3a unit can continuously create can evaporate roughly 90 pounds of water per hour. However, a simple poly tarp cover can allow considerable heat loss at night, so the water evaporation then will be less. During the daytime, the amount of heat lost outward through the tarp may be greater or less than the amount of sunlight heating which comes in through the poly tarp, so the evaporation rate may be less than or greater than the 90 pounds of water per hour. This is roughly 13 gallons (50 liters) per hour or around 320 gallons (1,300 liters) of water evaporated from the chamber per day. Due to the night heat losses and other reasons, a more practical expected amount is around 250 gallons (1,000 liters) of water per day. Included in this is the 20 gallons (80 liters) of water the HG 3a system naturally creates in a full day of operation, so a total of around 250 gallons (1,000 liters) of perfectly pure distilled water is realistic every day. This quantity is relatively independent of local humidity, since most of the heat used is produced by the HG 3a device, although in extremely cold climates, the water production will be less.

Solar Still Operation

The operation of a solar still has many limitations. The tilted glass cover is usually faced to the south, so early in the morning or late in the afternoon, the sunlight cannot easily get in to heat the water because of the angle of the sunlight. The water is not of a color that is particularly absorbent (technically, high emissivity) to solar energy. A critical part of a solar still is that the high humidity air that is produced by the evaporation of some of the water needs to encounter a COOL or COLD surface, such that the effects described in this presentation can occur, where the (local) relative humidity gets up to 100% and therefore water must condense into droplets. Since the glass cover is the surface in a solar still which must also represent that cooler surface, it would be great if it were as cool as possible. However, as the sunlight passes through the glass on the way in, a little of the heat is absorbed. Also, the location of the glass exposes it to the outdoor air, so the glass can never be cooler than the ambient air temperature. And finally, the glass cover is constantly exposed to the warm or hot air inside the chamber, so it generally becomes quite a bit HOTTER than the current ambient air temperature. Per the Psychrometric Chart, these effects all greatly reduce the amount of water that can be produced in a solar still. A little water is better than no water, true, but our approach of having the cool surface fairly deep UNDERGROUND, that factor alone keeps the condensation surfaces 20°F or 30°F (10°C or 15°C) or COOLER than the glass cover of a solar still. The Chart shows the wonderful advantages of this factor.

Reverse Osmosis Pumps

If the water is merely brackish, salty, the pumps can be in the 250-400 PSI pressure range, still rather high and energy consuming. When the water is seawater, much more salty, the pumps must be much stronger to force the water molecules through the very tiny filters, 800-1180 PSI.

In addition, such equipment can work reasonably reliably with a supply of brackish water, where maintenance can be manageable, but for seawater, RO equipment tends to have those filters clog up almost immediately and constantly. Therefore, there are a number of installations where brackish water is desalinated reasonably successfully, but virtually no successful attempts at desalinating seawater has yet been installed based on RO or the other high-tech micro-filter technologies, like ED. In general, they now know to not even TRY to desalinate seawater!

This presentation was first placed on the Internet in March 2008.

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C Johnson, Theoretical Physicist, Physics Degree from Univ of Chicago