ORGANIZATION NAME: ORE Design
LOCATION: Los Angeles, California, USA
SUMMARY: VENA is the first large-scale atmospheric water generator that is entirely powered with passive energy. Using the sun's heat as a power source and the ground as a condenser VENA generates water in locations that have limited or polluted natural sources.
PROBLEM SPACE: Availability of drinking water is a prominent global issue. Population growth, climate change and associated desertification will continue to increase the severity of water shortage. WHO/UNICEF estimates that by 2050, 4 billion people around the world will suffer from a chronic lack of potable water. These problems will have disastrous consequences for the health of affected populations and in some areas may lead to significant social upheaval. In addition to current methods of water production, VENA provides an alternative source of previously untapped water with large-scale access while maintaining a much lower cost of operation than desalination, current atmospheric water generators, and dew-capture technology. VENA's technology creates potable water at a quarter of the price of competitors. Additionally, VENA has the potential to create passive energy and arable land, allowing for formerly infertile earth to produce crops.
SOLUTION: "Inhabitants of arid regions as well as those in over-populated urban areas that lack a sustainable water source constitute the core beneficiaries of this new technology. VENA not only has the immediate effect of providing drinking water, but also takes stress off of depleted aquifers and allows them to recharge naturally.
VENA leverages the earth's constant cool temperatures to create a stable, scalable, passive source of water. For powering small components of the system, VENA can be paired with solar energy, wind power, or an electricity grid depending on what is available. For this reason, VENA can be installed anywhere and operate 365 days a year, regardless of the weather.
Solar heat energy is captured underneath a large canopy of greenhouse film. Air, warmed by the sun's heat rises and converges at a central updraft tower, creating a large, fast current of air. This current of air acts as a power source driving VENA's required air intake.
Like a drinking straw, the updraft tower pulls ambient air through the system and a series of air filters at intake, shedding particulates as it is drawn through heat exchangers tied to geothermal cooling loops. The ambient air is cooled by the heat exchangers to the dew point. At this stage, the ambient air becomes saturated to 100% humidity, transforming into a fog state. As fog, air enters the condensation chamber and encounters earth-cooled surfaces and water is condensed. The latent heat generated via phase-change is rejected to the soil surrounding the condensation chamber. The water is collected and pumped to the surface for storage and further filtration to ensure potability.
Using passive energy sources, heat from the sun to generate pumping pressure and electricity, geothermal cooling to condense water, VENA operates 100% off the grid 365 days a year."