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Thread: taking water from the air

  1. #1 taking water from the air 
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    Quote Originally Posted by cosmictraveler View Post
    Dehumidifiers do that all the time. They take out water, which you can drink, and store it in containers within the device which you must remove and empty every day or so. Hydrogen cannot be made in the same way for it can be extracted by other means which require more energy to separate the molecules from each other.
    So could the same technology be applied to create something that could do the same thing but at a much smaller scale? The idea is to create something that would fit inside your mouth that would keep you hydrated just from the air you breath, or at the least provide some hydration.

    Original Question


    So I was drinking a glass of water, and started thinking about possible ways to access the water in the air for drinking. I am in no way a chemist, but I do know a few basic things.

    Water = H2O

    Which is two hydrogen and one oxygen.

    Theoretically, would it be possible to take water from the air or maybe take hydrogen from water in the air?


    Last edited by elihushaw; May 4th, 2013 at 10:38 PM.
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    Forum Radioactive Isotope cosmictraveler's Avatar
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    Dehumidifiers do that all the time. They take out water, which you can drink, and store it in containers within the device which you must remove and empty every day or so. Hydrogen cannot be made in the same way for it can be extracted by other means which require more energy to separate the molecules from each other.


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    So could the same technology be applied to create something that could do the same thing but at a much smaller scale? The idea is to create something that would fit inside your mouth that would keep you hydrated just from the air you breath, or at the least provide some hydration.
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    Forum Radioactive Isotope cosmictraveler's Avatar
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    Any device that would be a small dehumidifier would need a power source to make it work plus the device itself. They can make a backpack that could contain such a device but why would you want to carry that around because it would be heavy. Just bring a ample supply of water with you if you are going to go somewhere where you'll need to drink water.
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    Assuming that you can make a little refrigeration unit about the size of an egg, and somehow power it, there remains the engineering problem that there is not a lot of water in the air. So in order to get enough water out of the air to supply a human's needs a tremendous amt of air must be forced through the device. The intake side would be sucking like a super vacume cleaner and the out put of dehumidified air would have the force of tornado winds. In effect you would be wearing a powerful propulsive device.
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    Thanks a lot for the replies! Definitely solved my questions.
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    People have built and used air wells and fog fences, but they aren't really portable.
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    Perhaps a solar powered dehumidifier that could be carried as a backpack would be ergonomic, but if you're asking for how to gain water reserves in the wilderness, you can construct a solar still, or simply dig a hole beside an unclean water source.
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  10. #9  
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    Quote Originally Posted by elihushaw View Post
    So could the same technology be applied to create something that could do the same thing but at a much smaller scale? The idea is to create something that would fit inside your mouth that would keep you hydrated just from the air you breath, or at the least provide some hydration.
    What would be the point of this? If you have to carry a device, you might as well just carry a small container of water. Or you could just wait for it to rain.

    You do realise that there is already water vapor in the air, don't you? There is no need to combine oxygen and hydrogen.
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    The desert suits described in Frank Herbert's novel Dune are a way to preserve water vaper that is given off by the human body. This is maybe the best approach, rather than try to obtain water from the air. Conservation -- not extraction.
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    This isn't a personal water supply, but it's pretty nifty anyway.

    Making water from air: a collaboration between engineers and marketeers | Guardian Sustainable Business | Guardian Professional

    Only suitable for a high humidity environment - but there are plenty of those. Power it with solar and schools or businesses could do very well with it.
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    Quote Originally Posted by PumaMan View Post
    The desert suits described in Frank Herbert's novel Dune are a way to preserve water vaper that is given off by the human body. This is maybe the best approach, rather than try to obtain water from the air. Conservation -- not extraction.
    The Dune desert suits were one of the dumber ideas in science fiction. If you condense the water, you wouldn't get any net cooling effect from sweating, and you'd die of heat stroke.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Harold14370 View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by PumaMan View Post
    The desert suits described in Frank Herbert's novel Dune are a way to preserve water vaper that is given off by the human body. This is maybe the best approach, rather than try to obtain water from the air. Conservation -- not extraction.
    The Dune desert suits were one of the dumber ideas in science fiction. If you condense the water, you wouldn't get any net cooling effect from sweating, and you'd die of heat stroke.
    I think Frank Herbert did his research and homework a bit better than you:

    As the planetologist Liet Kynes is assisting Duke Leto Atreides I with the fitting of his stillsuit, he explains the suit in this manner:


    "It's basically a micro-sandwich a high-efficiency filter and heat-exchange system. The skin-contact layer's porous. Perspiration passes through it, having cooled the body ... near-normal evaporation process. The next two layers . . . include heat exchange filaments and salt precipitators. Salt's reclaimed. Motions of the body, especially breathing and some osmotic action provide the pumping force. Reclaimed water circulates to catchpockets from which you draw it through this tube in the clip at your neck... Urine and feces are processed in the thigh pads. In the open desert, you wear this filter across your face, this tube in the nostrils with these plugs to ensure a tight fit. Breathe in through the mouth filter, out through the nose tube. With a Fremen suit in good working order, you won't lose more than a thimbleful of moisture a day..."
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    Quote Originally Posted by PumaMan View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by Harold14370 View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by PumaMan View Post
    The desert suits described in Frank Herbert's novel Dune are a way to preserve water vaper that is given off by the human body. This is maybe the best approach, rather than try to obtain water from the air. Conservation -- not extraction.
    The Dune desert suits were one of the dumber ideas in science fiction. If you condense the water, you wouldn't get any net cooling effect from sweating, and you'd die of heat stroke.
    I think Frank Herbert did his research and homework a bit better than you:

    As the planetologist Liet Kynes is assisting Duke Leto Atreides I with the fitting of his stillsuit, he explains the suit in this manner:


    "It's basically a micro-sandwich — a high-efficiency filter and heat-exchange system. The skin-contact layer's porous. Perspiration passes through it, having cooled the body ... near-normal evaporation process. The next two layers . . . include heat exchange filaments and salt precipitators. Salt's reclaimed. Motions of the body, especially breathing and some osmotic action provide the pumping force. Reclaimed water circulates to catchpockets from which you draw it through this tube in the clip at your neck... Urine and feces are processed in the thigh pads. In the open desert, you wear this filter across your face, this tube in the nostrils with these plugs to ensure a tight fit. Breathe in through the mouth filter, out through the nose tube. With a Fremen suit in good working order, you won't lose more than a thimbleful of moisture a day..."
    Liet Kynes was a character in the book, wasn't he?
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    I agree with the above people. Something akin to a Dune desert suit would be best. A dehumidifier, by the sound of it, would probably be rather bulky to carry about with you. There are methods of rehydration by lost bodily water other than dehumidifiers, most of them probably more efficient.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Eldritch View Post
    I agree with the above people. Something akin to a Dune desert suit would be best. A dehumidifier, by the sound of it, would probably be rather bulky to carry about with you. There are methods of rehydration by lost bodily water other than dehumidifiers, most of them probably more efficient.
    So, you recommend a nonexistent device from a science fiction book?
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    Quote Originally Posted by Eldritch View Post
    I agree with the above people. Something akin to a Dune desert suit would be best. A dehumidifier, by the sound of it, would probably be rather bulky to carry about with you. There are methods of rehydration by lost bodily water other than dehumidifiers, most of them probably more efficient.
    Don't you think that a stillsuit would be as least as bulky as a humidifier, considering the machinery it would require, and difficult to walk around in? Whatever futuristic lightweight materials you used, they would be available for both. Sorry Harold. That was my geeky unrealistic post of the week.
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    The bulkiness is not the issue. There is no physical principle by which the stillsuit could work. A person wearing a stillsuit is generating heat due to metabolic processes. This heat must be expelled to the outside environment, or the temperature will rise. This is basic thermodynamics. Circulating water inside the suit will not accomplish anything.
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    There are certain types of beetles in desert that use there bodies to collect water droplets from the air and this provides enough water to entirely sustain them. The method they use is extremely simple and could easily be used by anyone to collect water from the air, this just to have something with sufficient surface area and cool enough for condensation to form. In the case of the beetles it is their bodies on which the condensation collects, but for human usage something made of glass or metal, a material that stays cool, would work well and the shape of having many many ridges to provide maximum surface area and pockets for water droplets to collect.
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    Beetles in the desert? If you don't want to watch the whole of this video on design imitating nature, or 'bio-mimicry', the bit relating to beetles collecting water from air starts at 6.50.

    Michael Pawlyn: Using nature's genius in architecture | Video on TED.com

    Of course, it's not related at all to personal water collection, but it's still interesting.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Harold14370 View Post
    The bulkiness is not the issue. There is no physical principle by which the stillsuit could work. A person wearing a stillsuit is generating heat due to metabolic processes. This heat must be expelled to the outside environment, or the temperature will rise. This is basic thermodynamics. Circulating water inside the suit will not accomplish anything.
    I will admit I know next to nothing about thermodynamics, but I'm reasonably certain that if one allowed the thermal energy to be led away from capillary-like tubes near the surface of a suit such as this, the heat would be exchanged sufficiently (especially because, as I understand it, Arakkis is a rather windy desert planet.)
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    The only way a still suit would work is if the exterior environment was significantly cold. Water vapor bearing breath would have to perculate out thru tubules toward the outer air losing moisture along the way as liquid water that runs back into a resivour. There is a device that works sort of like that. It is a avalanch vest. People die when burried in snow in an avalanch because their breath is so warm that it melts the snow near their face, the melt water refreezes as it soaks back into the snow mass forming an air tight icy shell. The victim suffocates. The vest has a mouth piece that the victim breaths out through which spreads his breath out over the area of the vest, cooling it so it does not melt snow. I would imagine that an analanch vest gets moist while in use.
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    "Ah! I feel so hydrated, wait a minute, AHHHH Why am I up in the air!!!!!! Get me down!!!!!" Then you run out of power and plummet back to earth, at least you're hydrated!
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