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From air to water, university unveils the Hydro Harvester


Newcastle is home to technology capable of harvesting up to 1,000 litres of drinking water every day – from air.  

Using solar energy or waste heat to warm the air and then absorbing that water from the atmosphere, the Hydro Harvester could be used to extract water for drinking or irrigation in times of drought. 

The technology already can produce enough drinking water to sustain a small rural community… or up to 400 people. 

The Hydro Harvester is the handiwork of University of Newcastle Laureate Professor Behdad Moghtaderi and his team, thanks to funding from the Australian Government’s Future Drought Fund. 

Nearing market readiness, the 1000L Hydro Harvester could potentially be used as a lifesaving tool during drought or emergencies.  

Chemical engineer and Director of the University of Newcastle’s Centre for Innovative Energy Technologies, Laureate Professor Moghtaderi.

Chemical engineer and director of the University’s Centre for Innovative Energy Technologies Laureate Professor Moghtaderi said unlike commercially available atmospheric water generators (AWGs), the Hydro Harvester worked by heating air instead of cooling it.  

“By using solar thermal energy or waste heat, the Hydro Harvester has a lower electrical demand and lower average cost of water per litre than commercial AWGs,” he said.  

“Our technology is designed to operate independent of the ambient temperature and humidity, so it’s suitable in virtually any environmental condition, and is cheaper to run.”  

The technology behind the Hydro Harvester was demonstrated at a launch event at Newcastle Institute for Energy and Resources (NIER) earlier this week. 

Professor Moghtaderi and his team are looking forward to seeing it trialled in remote communities later this year. 

While the main intent of the Hydro Harvester is to provide drinking water to drought-affected communities, Professor Moghtaderi said there were several potential applications.  

“It can provide emergency water supply for livestock to avoid complete destocking during droughts and allow faster economic recovery,” he added.  

“Or it could be used to temporarily supply communities when water is disconnected during repairs of leaking infrastructure. 

“There’s also potential to provide emergency water supply during disasters.  

“We look forward to connecting with a range of potential partners to explore how our communities can benefit from this technology.” 

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