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Tags Fontus water bottles , indiegogo

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Old 9th July 2016, 05:08 PM   #1
marplots
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Fontus self-filling water bottle: real or scam?

I've been enjoying the debunking on the forum for new products offered through indiegogo or simply appearing in the news. We've done the Skarp Laser razorblade, the Triton Gill, and the Flyboard Air. Sometimes the verdict is fake/scam and sometimes real.

They represent opportunities for critical thinking and a different niche for us to exercise our skeptical muscles (instead of another beatdown of bigfoot, UFOs, or 9-11 Truthers).

So have at this one, Fontus, a water bottle that refills by extracting moisture from the air. Here are a few resources:
Indiegogo page: https://www.indiegogo.com/projects/f...ater-bottles#/
A critical challenge (text): http://www.craveonline.com/design/99...dence-suggests
Similar challenge (video): https://youtu.be/BhnoSREmWVY

The item caught my eye because it appeared on the latest episode of Henry Ford's Innovation Nation, a show I generally find informative (PBS, Mo Rocca).

I'm leaning toward scam, but mostly based on the material at indiegogo. There's a certain flavor the scams have - a lot of initial positive claims and then backing off as the money balloons upward and the comments start to turn negative. On the other hand, the technology isn't so radical I'd say definitely scam - more like extending claims for existing tech, perhaps a bit too optimistically.

What's your verdict?

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Old 9th July 2016, 05:26 PM   #2
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Well, I give them credit for including some sort of power source. But it's nonsense. It can't be done with any currently existing solar technology.
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Old 9th July 2016, 05:26 PM   #3
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The Fontus water bottle is a scam and that the claims of its creators are false.

They ripped everyone off .. what a joke

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Old 9th July 2016, 05:32 PM   #4
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I found this video provided an interesting expose on the claims:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Bhno...4LWV_&index=18

His verdict "100% baloney". I think your assessment that they are being optimistic in the existing tech would be as generous as I could be.
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Old 9th July 2016, 06:29 PM   #5
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Over $300,000 in donations. There ought to be a way to get the message out and shut them down.
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Old 9th July 2016, 06:38 PM   #6
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Without knowing anything about the details of the technology involved, my gut feeling is that if this works at all, it would do so way too slowly to be useful.
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Old 9th July 2016, 06:46 PM   #7
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Knee jerk response before clicking OP links: another thing that will require an order of magnitude more of something than is available outside cartoons. The surface area, the temperature gradient, the square footage of gizmo magic required to do the job.


I live in very dry air. That's your first customer input variable.
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Old 9th July 2016, 06:55 PM   #8
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The principle is the same as a dehumidifier, not sure how fast it would work though, we can pull a couple of litres in 4 hours with our somewhat lager machine with mains power, up to 10 litres a day at optimum performance. I suspect looking at the time lapse, assuming it's not faked by adding water, that to get a full bottle, 0.8 litres, you're looking at several hours or more, and considering your likely water intake, I suspect you'd require more then it could produce if it actually works at all.
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Old 9th July 2016, 07:01 PM   #9
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For what it's worth, thunderf00t over on YouTube has a video debunking the claims.
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Old 9th July 2016, 07:22 PM   #10
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Originally Posted by arthwollipot View Post
Without knowing anything about the details of the technology involved, my gut feeling is that if this works at all, it would do so way too slowly to be useful.

The company's own claim is that it could produce a liter of water in two and a half hours at forty degrees Celsius and ninety percent humidity.
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Old 9th July 2016, 07:40 PM   #11
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Originally Posted by Loss Leader View Post
The company's own claim is that it could produce a liter of water in two and a half hours at forty degrees Celsius and ninety percent humidity.
You can wring more than that out of your shirt under those conditions!

Try it at 40 C and 10% (Typical NM Summer day
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Old 9th July 2016, 09:17 PM   #12
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Originally Posted by Loss Leader View Post
Well, I give them credit for including some sort of power source. But it's nonsense. It can't be done with any currently existing solar technology.
Sure it can. The physical principles are simple: solar cell drives a thermoelectric cooler, water condenses on the cold side and gets collected. The basic science is sound. That isn't the problem. This is the potential problem:

Originally Posted by Loss Leader View Post
The company's own claim is that it could produce a liter of water in two and a half hours at forty degrees Celsius and ninety percent humidity.
Yeah, no. That doesn't cut it. 40 C is HOT. 90% humidity is high. Under those conditions, you're going to sweat like a pig, and you'll need a lot more than a liter of water in two and a half hours if you're doing anything active. So this won't produce what you need. If it's less hot, then even the same high relative humidity will mean less absolute water in the air, and slower water production. If the humidity is lower, or if it's not sunny, then production rate will drop even more.

Their basic claim is that you don't have to worry about water. But you still do. You have to make sure it's going to be humid and sunny enough to produce as much water as you need (which you'll also need to know), and you'll need to supplement this with water you bring if it isn't enough. Which will be often.

It's a neat idea, but it's over-promising, and I really doubt it can deliver the kind of volume that would be needed to actually make bringing water a non-issue.
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Old 9th July 2016, 11:47 PM   #13
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Some rough calculations.
At 100% relative humidity there is at 40C about 50 grams of water per KG of air (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Relati...e_Humidity.png)
Rough air density at that temperature is 1.12 kg/m3
So for 1 L of water you want 22.2 m3 of air. This needs to be moved and thus costs energy.
The energy of evaporation of 1 kg of water is 2257 kJ/kg, so you need to add that amount of energy at least, but you want it cooled to below 100 degrees C.
The heat capacity of water is 4.1813 kJ/kgK and you want to cool it from at least 100 degrees to 20 degrees C, so that is another 334.5 kJ
So total energy needed to do this is 2591.5 kJ plus whatever energy is needed to move the fan, plus the fact that part of the energy will be wasted. Lets be generous and call it a round 3000 kJ
If you want this to be done in an hour you'd need about 833 W
Looking at the first solar panel provider I found on google their panels, at maximum efficiency, can give about 120 W per m2 so you'd need about 7 m2 to fill a bottle in an hour.

Again, this is very rough, and assumes 100% humidity and a truly sunny day with the room to put the solar panels at optimum efficiency.

I haven't clicked the link, but somehow I doubt they need THAT much surface.
All in all, I would have my severe doubts about the practicality of this, even if it is technically possible.
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Old 10th July 2016, 12:04 AM   #14
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Haven't looked at the link. Doubt a water bottle could be rigged this way, but atmospheric water generation does work in humid areas that lack water, such as seaside desert or places with contaminated rivers. It's just energy-expensive since it is the same more or less as running a dehumidifier (requiring a compressor). In fact, the idea is simply a dehumidifier and a carbon filter, plus UV light.

This technology is susceptible to step-wise improvement, and my guess is that at a small plant level, it will be more economical soon as the cost of solar power decreases. This approach works best in high heat and humidity, and is therefore good for places like Houston, the Caribbean, coastal West Africa, the Gulf States, and Singapore.
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Old 10th July 2016, 12:23 AM   #15
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umm, sorry to break the news but 90% humidity at 40C does not exist on planet earth...
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Old 10th July 2016, 12:27 AM   #16
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Originally Posted by stanfr View Post
umm, sorry to break the news but 90% humidity at 40C does not exist on planet earth...
Dehumidifiers work at lower levels. Just hold a glass of ice tea in Jamaica outdoors and tell me what happens.
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Old 10th July 2016, 12:34 AM   #17
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Originally Posted by stanfr View Post
umm, sorry to break the news but 90% humidity at 40C does not exist on planet earth...
Really? I've been in tropical rainforests at those sort of temperatures, and had dew forming on walls.........which implies very high levels of relative humidity. Admittedly, I wasn't there to collect meteorological data, so I have no actual figures for you, but I am somewhat sceptical of your dismissal.
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Old 10th July 2016, 01:52 AM   #18
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It's all academic anyway as funding has closed.

They have the money, presumably will now run, possibly with a series of lame excuses.
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Old 10th July 2016, 04:39 AM   #19
marplots
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Originally Posted by fagin View Post
It's all academic anyway as funding has closed.

They have the money, presumably will now run, possibly with a series of lame excuses.
The way I understand indiegogo, they can close when they reach the target but keep on collecting funds. The closure is a mechanism that allows them to get at the money and starts the, "don't have to give a refund anymore" clock.

I believe this is why they use indiegogo in the first place.
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Old 10th July 2016, 04:40 AM   #20
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My wife suggested the principals might not think it's a scam and are therefore not culpable.

I think, at some point, the impossibility has to become obvious to those involved.

Lovely disclaimer:
It is explicitly pointed out that the products which serve as Perks are in the development phase. It cannot be excluded that during the development phase technical, economical or other circumstances arise which may result in (i) a delay of the delivery of the Perk or (ii) the production and delivery of the Perk in a different form as regards functionality and/or design or (iii) even non-production of the Perk. In the latter case there will be no Perk delivered to the Contributor. Contributions will not be refunded. By making a Contribution the Contributors explicitly acknowledge the risks associated with the occurrence of one of the aforementioned events. (Bold added)

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Old 10th July 2016, 05:22 AM   #21
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Originally Posted by Lukraak_Sisser View Post
Some rough calculations.
At 100% relative humidity there is at 40C about 50 grams of water per KG of air (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Relati...e_Humidity.png)
Rough air density at that temperature is 1.12 kg/m3
So for 1 L of water you want 22.2 m3 of air. This needs to be moved and thus costs energy.
The energy of evaporation of 1 kg of water is 2257 kJ/kg, so you need to add that amount of energy at least, but you want it cooled to below 100 degrees C.
The heat capacity of water is 4.1813 kJ/kgK and you want to cool it from at least 100 degrees to 20 degrees C, so that is another 334.5 kJ
So total energy needed to do this is 2591.5 kJ plus whatever energy is needed to move the fan, plus the fact that part of the energy will be wasted. Lets be generous and call it a round 3000 kJ
If you want this to be done in an hour you'd need about 833 W
Looking at the first solar panel provider I found on google their panels, at maximum efficiency, can give about 120 W per m2 so you'd need about 7 m2 to fill a bottle in an hour.

Again, this is very rough, and assumes 100% humidity and a truly sunny day with the room to put the solar panels at optimum efficiency.

I haven't clicked the link, but somehow I doubt they need THAT much surface.
All in all, I would have my severe doubts about the practicality of this, even if it is technically possible.
Your numbers are completely wrong. Cooling with a heat pump can be done far more efficiently than that (in fact, so can heating). You cannot take the heat capacity and declare that it takes that much energy to cool it too. It doesn't. You need to move that much energy, but the pump itself can run on much, much less. And why are you using 100C as a relevant temperature? It isn't. 100C is the point at which water boils, but it isn't the temperature at which water evaporates or condenses. You're never going to be starting with water vapor above ambient temperature.

I have my doubts about the practicality of this device too (see above), but the calculations don't work this way.
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Old 10th July 2016, 05:51 AM   #22
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Old 10th July 2016, 06:28 AM   #23
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Originally Posted by Ziggurat View Post
Your numbers are completely wrong. Cooling with a heat pump can be done far more efficiently than that (in fact, so can heating). You cannot take the heat capacity and declare that it takes that much energy to cool it too. It doesn't. You need to move that much energy, but the pump itself can run on much, much less. And why are you using 100C as a relevant temperature? It isn't. 100C is the point at which water boils, but it isn't the temperature at which water evaporates or condenses. You're never going to be starting with water vapor above ambient temperature.

I have my doubts about the practicality of this device too (see above), but the calculations don't work this way.
Like I said, the numbers are rough. It may be that only 3m2 of solar panel is needed, but it's not anywhere near the amount possible to fit on a bottle.
No matter how you put it, you will need to deal with the enthalpy of evaporation as the device claims to turn gaseous water into liquid and that is the biggest amount of energy needed. Even if I am off by a factor 10 (which is entirely possible), 0.7 m2 is still way more than a bottle can handle.
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Old 10th July 2016, 07:08 AM   #24
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Since you fine engineers enjoy calculating, why not do one or more of the following and help a dude out, pretty please with sugar on top:

Determine:
- (optimal condensation temperature in equatorial regions, for a start)
- best type of continuous action compressor for this sort of tech
- max surface area of metal plating that could be cooled to optimal condensation
- optimum configuration of metal plating to compact surface area in small region
- optimum type of and configuration of metal plating for easy cleaning
- surface area of currently available solar panels to power one such compressor

Other:
- can sunlight be easily and practically filtered and mirrored as UV light? saves on another component for decontamination
- are ambient chemicals a danger when condensing air? say, next to a polluted river

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I participated in an attempt to market and sell standalone Chinese-built atmospheric water generators in an African market (2009-10). We did not get funding.
By the end, I'd lost faith in the standalone concept (works, but is a 500 Watt machine).
I continue to speak with a HS friend from West Africa about how we might get some student engineers to work out the above issues and determine more about feasibility.

Short comment:
This may all be like the Apple Newton handheld that flopped decades before the iPad: that is, a question of waiting for component technologies to mature, especially solar panels. My non-engineer guess is that in all of this, it will be the cost of the energy used per liter that would make bottled water of this kind competitive or not in any given market. Note that there are countries with fecal matter in public water systems with the public importing large amounts of bottled water for cooking and drinking.
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Old 10th July 2016, 08:01 AM   #25
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Originally Posted by arthwollipot View Post
Without knowing anything about the details of the technology involved, my gut feeling is that if this works at all, it would do so way too slowly to be useful.
This. It's a reasonably common ide in sci-fi but not usefully possible with current tech.
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Old 10th July 2016, 09:21 AM   #26
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Has anyone else been reminded of the "windtraps" in the novel Dune (proposed to collect moisture from the air)? Or the "stillsuits" (which were proposed to recapture sweat from a person as distilled water- which would generate an exceedingly unpleasant environment in the suit, right?).

I agree with the ideas proposed here that one could create a device to condense water from air-borne moisture (some small animals survive on dew captured on leaves or, I believe, even on webs). The key question is how much can one obtain in most situations and would it be enough for a person to live on?

I am not knowledgeable enough in physics to calculate the energy costs involved in moving heat from the condenser to the external environment versus the total energy released by the condensation. But it does appear that in almost all environments the moisture in the air would be way too small to obtain enough condensate to be of practical use, even at 100% efficiency. Even in humid tropic rain forests one could obtain only a fraction of one's daily needs (in which case is there enough sun light at the surface to power the device?). Certainly not in most deserts. In fact the most suitable humid places probably already have surface water in much larger quantities than could ever be produced by the water bottle device.

One possibility might be to use it to desalinize sea water in boats or on coast lines (I believe there are already devices that have a plastic cover over a container that allows the sun to evaporate sea water, which then condenses on the cover and drips as distillate into a collection bottle). Perhaps the two approaches could be integrated in some way? But even if so, might not a reverse osmosis device be more efficient? What do the experts think?
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Old 10th July 2016, 09:40 AM   #27
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Originally Posted by stanfr View Post
umm, sorry to break the news but 90% humidity at 40C does not exist on planet earth...
Originally Posted by MikeG View Post
Really? I've been in tropical rainforests at those sort of temperatures, and had dew forming on walls.........which implies very high levels of relative humidity. Admittedly, I wasn't there to collect meteorological data, so I have no actual figures for you, but I am somewhat sceptical of your dismissal.
I too doubted this at first, but it may be correct.

A desert/grassland isn't going to reach anywhere near 90 percent humidity, even after a rain event; and I don't know that there are any rainforests that reach 104. I certainly couldn't find any via a quick googling.

ETA: 90% humidity is downright wet. That's really, really high humidity.
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Old 10th July 2016, 09:45 AM   #28
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Originally Posted by Ziggurat View Post
Yeah, no. That doesn't cut it. 40 C is HOT. 90% humidity is high. Under those conditions, you're going to sweat like a pig, and you'll need a lot more than a liter of water in two and a half hours if you're doing anything active. So this won't produce what you need.
I agree it is a scam and will not produce the desired results.

But I want to point out that if it did work, the device is small enough that one person could carry three or four of them and then produce greater quantities of water.

But it doesn't work so that was merely an academic observation.
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Old 10th July 2016, 10:05 AM   #29
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Have a look at the diagram of the Ryde device on the indiegogo page (sorry, not sure of copyright issues so not posting image). What's wrong with this picture? A Peltier device has a hot and a cold side and as shown in the diagram is sandwiched between two fin arrays. One of the arrays is used to dissipate the heat removed from the other side. But the diagram shows condensation occurring on both arrays! Plus both fin arrays are within the air plenum! If that wasn't enough, the fins of the hot side array are oriented normal to the air flow. The base of the hot side array far exceeds the footprint of the Peltier device, meaning the hot side array would be very inefficient due to heat spreading limitations.

Early in the concept phase this might be excused as artistic license by industrial design students. At this stage of the game? No way.
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Last edited by ferd burfle; 10th July 2016 at 10:10 AM. Reason: Clarity
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Old 10th July 2016, 10:33 AM   #30
marplots
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Originally Posted by Varanid View Post
I too doubted this at first, but it may be correct.

A desert/grassland isn't going to reach anywhere near 90 percent humidity, even after a rain event; and I don't know that there are any rainforests that reach 104. I certainly couldn't find any via a quick googling.

ETA: 90% humidity is downright wet. That's really, really high humidity.
I immediately thought of hot springs, but that's kind of an exceptional environment.
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Old 10th July 2016, 10:53 AM   #31
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Originally Posted by marplots View Post
I immediately thought of hot springs, but that's kind of an exceptional environment.
Plenty of desert coastline near water. Dubai, for example, with an average humidity similar to fairly swampy Washington DC. Ghana has high temp and very high humidity, yet needs water due to periodic drought in the upper Volta and pollution. In spite of good rainfall, Singapore is too small to collect the water it needs and imports it from Malaysia, single supplier situation is a high security risk. I imagine all across coasts in Central America, perhaps northern Australia, and Eastern Africa there are zones of high humidity near places needing potable water.

For me it's a question of working out the cost of the energy per liter produced and seeing if that can be made economical vis-a-vis other sources. The tech, as such, is from the HVAC industry, nothing really experimental.
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Old 11th July 2016, 06:41 AM   #32
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They've made $10,000 more since the OP (two days, over the weekend). Not bad for a "closed" project.

It bothers me. Maybe this is what a SJW feels like, tilting at windmills.

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Old 11th July 2016, 06:52 AM   #33
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Originally Posted by marplots View Post
They've made $10,000 more since the OP (two days, over the weekend). Not bad for a "closed" project.

It bothers me. Maybe this is what a SJW feels like, tilting at windmills.
Finally looked at the link for this thing. Definitely a scam. Wondering, however, why readers here appear to be confusing that scam with good ole dehumidifier technology.
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Old 11th July 2016, 07:21 AM   #34
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Originally Posted by Hlafordlaes View Post
Finally looked at the link for this thing. Definitely a scam. Wondering, however, why readers here appear to be confusing that scam with good ole dehumidifier technology.
I don't think any readers here do?
From what I've seen most seem to agree that while the technology to extract water from air using a dehumidifier powered with solar power is possible, the proposed project seems impossible with currently available technology.
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Old 11th July 2016, 07:39 AM   #35
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Originally Posted by marplots View Post
I immediately thought of hot springs, but that's kind of an exceptional environment.
Ahhh, well there you go. Good call.
The point remains...
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Old 11th July 2016, 07:45 AM   #36
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Originally Posted by Lukraak_Sisser View Post
I don't think any readers here do?
From what I've seen most seem to agree that while the technology to extract water from air using a dehumidifier powered with solar power is possible, the proposed project seems impossible with currently available technology.
But I'm doggéd. I think that the technology is fast approaching to being the right fit. I know the Chinese machines work (drank from one), but also that they are horribly inefficient. (Compressor is not utilized to its fullest potential owing to the small total surface area of plates owing to the requirement to fit in an appliance.)

Every morning there was a gallon of dirty water waiting disposal in my parents' basement in the 1960s. Old tech. Get the energy cost down and use sterilization measures, and we are close to what I'd like to see today, only in a standalone frame warehouse and multiple units dripping to a gravity-fed bottler.

My problem is I keep spending too much down time sick, and when I get back to the topic, it is square one again. Luckily, just did a translation for a local subsidiary of a major compressor manufacturer, and some models seem ideal. What I really need is to determine the ratio of plate surface per compressor and see how much H2O can be produced at what energy cost. Who knows, there is an old canal coming off the river nearby into a disused factory; think I may yet finagle a way to get some toys to play with. What I really want is to narrow the variables to proper definitions and see what gap remains to making this viable, depending on location. I really need an engineer partner, and maybe can get one locally.
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Old 11th July 2016, 07:54 AM   #37
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Originally Posted by Lukraak_Sisser View Post
I don't think any readers here do?
From what I've seen most seem to agree that while the technology to extract water from air using a dehumidifier powered with solar power is possible, the proposed project seems impossible with currently available technology.
Since some posts have mentioned being near a coast contributing to the humidity, I'm wondering how condensing humid air compares in electricity use with the desalination of sea water. Any thoughts?
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Old 11th July 2016, 09:13 AM   #38
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I've looked at the fontus link and glanced at the first debunk link.

It's over ambitious art student magical thinking cartoon physics. The solar panel they have would barely support indicator LEDs, much less drive a cooling module and fan.

I'm experimenting with a standard blue plastic 12v plug in cooler, as part of an unrelated project. It's sized to hold a six pack of cans. It draws 2 full Amps at 12vdc; I'll probably use a full 50 watts to describe it on paper.

In Columbia, South Carolina the current temperature is 85f, humidity 64%. This online calc
http://www.calculator.net/dew-point-...ty=64&x=63&y=7
tells me the dew point for that is 72f.

The theoretical delta t for a Peltier module is 70c, per los wikis, but my bench tests reveal a continuous delta t of 50f is actual for this installation, a muffin-fan on one side and a hard-coupled metal liner pan on the other. I've not yet characterized BTU per hour.
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Old 14th July 2016, 09:23 AM   #39
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I have preliminary results from unrelated bench testing of a blue 12v cooler. They're not favorable to the Peltier device in general, and are deal killers for this product without order of magnitude improvements in efficiency for both Peltier device and solar cells.

I'll post a more thorough write up when I've complied my notes, but I think I understand the Peltier device better. It's crap. That's why they're not ubiquitous. Because they're almost magic, but not quite.
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Old 14th July 2016, 11:48 AM   #40
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I'm not going to ask about my stuff anymore, but just wanted to say it had nothing to do with Peltier devices. Just for the record, anyway.
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