Design for Wellbeing work to solve the global water crisis
“…lack of access to pure drinking water is one of the key issues facing the world today.”
LTU students, in collaboration with students from Stanford University, Royal Institute of Technology and Lund Faculty of Engineering, were given the task to develop a product that produces clean drinking water from air humidity. During Design EXPE, the annual design fair at Stanford University, the students presented the Mímir prototype, named after the Norse mythology’s guardian of the well of knowledge and wisdom.
Water is the most precious resource known to mankind. Its importance to the survival of life on the planet can hardly be overemphasized. However, lack of access to pure drinking water is one of the key issues facing the world today.
Traditional sources such as rivers, lakes and ground water have proved to be highly unreliable sources of drinking water. Therefore, there is a need to develop a novel, innovative technology that is more reliable and is able to produce pure, safe drinking water at all locations even under adverse environmental conditions.
With this vision in mind, the design team set on the task to design and develop a new generation Atmospheric Water Generator to harness nature’s most abundant resource: Air. The project was founded by the US company Immerse Global and the Swedish PIEp. The design team had a unique setting of members from four different Universities – Helsinki University of Technology, Lund Faculty of Engineering, Luleå University of Technology, Royal Institute of Technology and Stanford University. Since the most critical objective of the project was reli- able water production, the team decided to focus primarily on the technical aspects of water generation.
During the benchmarking process various processes and technologies prevalent in the water processing industry was explored. The team believes that successful generation of drinking water in arid zones (with relative humidity as low as 20%) would require the development of a better technology. Therefore, all its efforts from the very beginning were geared towards the search of a new technology that would give a marked improvement in performance over all the current designs. Based on the encouraging results of the initial prototypes, the team pursued with the technology of desiccants. Desiccants are chemical substances that have a natural tendency to absorb atmospheric moisture. Based on extensive prototyping and testing the team demonstrated the practical feasibility of the liquid desiccant technology and employed the technology in the final prototype, Mímir.
Mímir produces pure, cheap and fresh drinking water under a wide range of atmospheric conditions. It has been tested to produce approximately 10 liters of water at 41% relative humidity and 22°C. The energy cost per liter of water consumed can be as low as 45 cents at 40% RH. This is not only cheaper than bottled water but is also environmental friendly. The acrylic based exteriors, new look and the unique interface of Mímir provides a complete drinking experience to the user. Mímir has been a breakthrough in the technology and design front, but further testing and optimization is needed before the product could be introduced on the market. Many new aspects of optimization have been realized in the development process and with this knowledge the team has no doubt that the product has a great potential of fulfilling most of the drinking water needs of the world in near future.
“- The project is interesting also from a research perspective, since the student teams face the same challenges as global industry companies when it comes to effective knowledge sharing and distance-spanning communication”, says Andreas Larsson, project leader.
Stanford University, with Professor Larry Leifer in the front row, carries out these types of global innovation projects every year. Apart from the Sweden partners, universities from Finland, Switzerland, Mexico, Colombia and Germany are participating this year. Head sponsors are, to mention a few, Panasonic, BMW, Siemens and GM.
Immerse Global is the owner of patent and developed prototype.