Monday, December 1, 2008

The Eden Machine

The Eden Machine

Some friends of mine who control the public company known as Lifespan LSPN:PK have decided that it is a great time to pursue the development of my atmospheric water harvester concept and are prepared to organize the necessary funding to make it all happen. I formulated the original concept four years ago as part of writing my manuscript Paradigms Shift and then excerpted the key chapter as my third post when I initiated this Blog. You may want to read that particular post at:

I have referred to the concept many times since. The problem can and has been solved expensively using classic technologies primarily as a drinking water system using household power. It is after all a variation on a refrigerator used to collect humidity.

We have to go far beyond this, but we will give ourselves one break. We do not need to fuss with the water itself because it will go directly into the adjacent soils for irrigation purposes. There are three primary subsystems besides the control system. We have already recognized the need for refrigeration. We also need energy storage but it does not need to be mobile which will let us work up prototypes with our old friends the lead acid battery. Then we need an energy source other than the power grid.

The first big saving comes from the mere fact that the power used will not travel removing the whole issue of transmission losses. With the water also not traveling we are designing a stand alone unit that can be placed anywhere, set up and walked away from potentially for months at a time, except for occasional maintenance.

We have already decided that the optimum design objective is a device capable of collecting 100 liters a day at close to 100 percent humidity. We formulated this around the knowledge that a full grown fruit tree will respire 50 to 70 liters of water per day. This makes it easy for operators to manage their units.

We am expecting to use a solar array to generate the working energy and was in fact waiting for the cost of solar energy to come down to around $1.00 per watt. This year, Nanosolar announced just that price and are now shipping. However, for prototyping, any supplier will do initially. We will simply design so that various panels can be switched in and out as needed.

The solar panel could be put on a mast as the trees grow larger, but in the early stages a simple upright sheet should be sufficient and save on excessive hardware. In some respects, this part of the system can be expected to follow the development of the original satellite antenna that went from six feet across down to eighteen inches and design can easily accommodate that sort of shift. Having them initially close to the ground also allows easy cleaning protocols and maintenance.

We also recognize that we need to store the solar energy during the day and consume it at night after the temperature has broken for maximum yield. The most likely battery system will be the vanadium redox battery. It weakness is low energy density, but this is offset by the capacity to cycle millions of time without ever wearing out the battery, The energy is also stored by pumping the active fluids into tanks after been acted on. There is also no particular limit to the speed of the process. The energy can be collected and stored for twelve hours and then dispensed in two hours, which may be the optimal design. The fluid tank can act as an anchor to the static system as well. The cost of the membranes is still custom driven, because no mass market has been yet developed for them. We may be the necessary mass market.

The good news is that the Vanadium Pentoxide is a one time purchase that will be recoverable. We do not know yet how many pounds will be needed and I would be guessing if I suggested a hundred pounds.

The stored energy is then released at night to operate a solid state cooling system which passes already night cooled air over it to induce the separation of the humidity. The dried air is then passed over the hot obverse side of the same panel to carry off the heat produced by the panel. The Eden machine is designed to cheaply, efficiently and continuously generate water for human, agricultural or industrial utilization.

We know where we wish to end up and I know that it is possible to produce an expensive working machine. We are in the same position that Henry Ford had at the dawn of the automobile age. A wide array of design elements will be pursued with the objective of driving the manufacturing costs down in incremental steps to achieve our goal.

We expect that our first customers will be back yards in LA and later, the Great Valley. After that we are good to go. It would also be fun to manage a million acres in the Empty Zone. Note that efficient application of the technology will commence in high humidity areas and progress toward more arid zones bringing their water with them in the same manner that the Amazon is watered. Once proper tree cover is established with absorptive soils, we can expect natural precipitation to largely take over most of the work load.

We also plan to be Nanosolar’s best customer before we are finished. I only wish that I could buy stock in that company. Anyone that can attract 300 million in private investment to build a couple of factories has my attention, to say nothing of their two million dollar tool that produces the power equivalent of one nuclear plant per year.

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