Kristof Retezár has designed a clever way for cyclists to stay hydrated while they ride. Thanks to Fontus, a new device that pulls water from the air, we may never have to worry about refills ever again. The solar-powered device harvests water using a Peltier Element – a two-chambered cooler designed to encourage condensation. As air moves through the upper chamber, it is slowed by several barriers. The decrease in airflow speed allows for the release of water molecules, which are pulled from the air and then stored in a bottle for the cyclist’s consumption.
It is essential, for good times and good health, that cyclists stay hydrated while enjoying the mid-summer weather. In the heat of it all, even the most conscious biker can forget to refill their water bottle, putting them in a precarious position. Kristof envisioned the Fontus to be practical and resilient. “My goal was to create a small, compact and self-sufficient device able to absorb humid air, separate water molecules from air molecules and store water in liquid form in a bottle,” says Retezár.
After over 30 experiments, Retezár was able to calibrate Fontus to achieve a steady output of one drop of condensed water per minute. That adds up to about a half liter captured per hour. Although this is an impressive achievement, it is not sufficient for a hot, humid day. The Fontus is also ineffective in urban areas, where pollution contaminates water molecules pulled from city air.
Fontus joins many promising projects in the quest to harvest water from air. In 2013, MIT scientists created a special mesh material that pulls water from fog and the results so far have been encouraging. Perhaps the professors could stitch an on-campus water-capturing web that might spare Boston of its wicked humidity. More importantly, these technologies could allow for a substantial decrease in water insecurity, which could alleviate poverty and serve as a resilient climate change adaptation.