Articles, Blog

Zero Mass’ solar panels turn air into drinking water

November 5, 2019

What if you could produce clean drinking
water right out of thin air and without using electricity? That’s what one
Arizona based startup is trying to do using a combination of solar energy,
material science, and data. Is this the next level of drinking water? This is Zero Mass Water. It’s a water startup operating out of an old car dealership
in Scottsdale, Arizona. Zero Mass is building and selling solar-powered
panels that harvest drinking water called Source. The panels have been up
and running in specific locations over the past couple years, but Source just
became more widely available. At the very highest level, we take sunlight and air
and we produce water. As you drill into that, the air part of that equation
is applying air into materials that like water. So the same way when you
leave a lid off of a sugar bowl, the sugar gets a little clumpy. That’s
because that sugar really likes water in the air. I visited Zero Mass at
their headquarters to check out their panels. And, of course, to taste the water. And where is this water coming from? So the panels that produce this water are on the roof. So we’re taking a water vapor
out of the air, concentrating it in the panels and then we’re dispensing it to
the tap. It tastes nice and clean. It’s good isn’t it? Yeah, I had some tap water last night that didn’t taste quite like this. Okay. So to say they pull water from the air is technically accurate, but really
it’s a multi-step system. The Zero Mass panels look like regular solar panels, but the middle strip is the only part that is standard photovoltaic technology. That part drives the fans and the communications inside the unit. On either side of that strip is a proprietary, porous material – one that generates heat. A separate proprietary material inside the panel absorbs moisture from the air. Then the panel uses sunlight to take the water back out of those materials and produce a process that’s not dissimilar from dew forming on grass. Basically, when warm air hits a surface colder than itself. And then the water ends up in a
30-liter reservoir. Where it’s mineralized and pH balanced
and at that point it’s drinkable. Let’s say there’s an emergency
situation, like with the recent hurricane in Puerto Rico. How quickly can you get
one of these set up? So the three of us could install two of these in probably an hour. And so it actually turns out, the thing that takes the longest in
putting these in, is moving that line down to the sink or to the refrigerator. While I was able to see the Zero Mass panels and taste the water, I didn’t have much
visibility into how the water actually runs from the reservoir to a faucet. I was, however, able to see the company’s network operations center. We call it the NOC for short. Every panel that we’ve ever deployed is communicating with the server we have here. Robinson also said that each panel has a circuit board that runs an algorithm. So it can adjust itself to maximize water output.
On average, each panel is supposed to produce five liters of water per day. But it is safe to assume that if you’re in a less humid climate or a more dry climate that your water output could be less. Here is probably very different from here in the Philippines, right? Yep, the two things that affect the amount of water we produce are the humidity in the atmosphere and the amount of solar
energy that’s available. Still, he says that Zero Mass panels are absolutely able to make water in the desert, even in a place as dry as Arizona. There’s no doubt that a lack of access to clean water
is a big problem for a lot of people.
According to the United Nations, water scarcity affects more than 40
percent of the global population. What would you say is the biggest water problem we have around the globe right now? Is it scarcity, is it quality, is it access? I would say, it is really all
of the above. That would be the right answer. The number of people who die from
waterborne diseases is enormous. It exceeds a million deaths per year. Dr. Ashok Gadgil is a kind of legend when it comes to socially beneficial technologies, especially in the developing world. He’s won numerous
awards, including an induction into the National Inventors Hall of Fame. And back in the 90s he developed a product that uses UV light to disinfect water. He says that changes in climate patterns, the explosion in urban populations and rising incomes are setting us up for a serious water crisis. This century, there is going to be an extraordinary crisis that the groundwater will be relied on as
if it was there in indefinitely large quantities. It is not, of course, there that
way — and we are to drill deeper and deeper and we are extracting now water,
that some of my geochemist friends tell me, is 10,000 years old,
that is being pulled out of the ground to be used, because that’s the rate of replenishment.
It’s minuscule compared to the rate of a withdrawal. So, is Zero Mass going
to replace groundwater as a primary source? Is it going to help people with
little to no access to clean water? Or is it just for people who buy a lot of
bottled water? Cody Friesen, the CEO, says all of the above. This takes us from a position of water scarcity to a position of water abundance for every person. And it’s a profound thing to say and I recognize it sounds profound but this technology entitles us to be aspirational because
of the fact that we can say, “Okay, yep they’re Syrian refugee issues in northern Lebanon, let’s go there.” “Yep, Maria hit Puerto Rico, yep, let’s go there.”
“Hey, there’s issues in Flint, let’s go there.” “Hey, by the way, you’re buying
bottled water in Berkeley. Let’s displace that.”
Same in Oakland, same in Scottsdale. There is still the cost to consider. Each panel costs $2,000 plus a $500 installation fee,
so $4,500 total for a two-panel array. So far, Zero Mass
says hundreds of panels have been set up in eight countries around the world.
For people in developed markets, that means they’re either early testers or they’re
paying out of pocket. In emergency situations or places where there’s a
lack of funding, the company is relying on donors, NGOs, or multilateral
institutions. The fact that it’s totally independent of any infrastructure, no wire, no pipe or anything, the fact that we can just put this anywhere, changes
your life. There’s no doubt Zero Mass is working hard
on an innovative way for people to have access to clean water without
electricity or sophisticated plumbing. Not surprisingly, others are working
on solutions like this too. The question then doesn’t seem to be
whether it’s too good to be true, it’s whether harvesting water from the
air is the most sustainable, most cost-effective solution for clean water. While Dr. Gadgil declined to comment on Zero Mass specifically, he said the method of harvesting water from the air wouldn’t be his first choice. Pulling water from moisture — condensing water from moisture in the air is viable if I was on a desert island, I had lots of money and there was no other source of fresh
water and I was going to die. Then the value of my life is what is now pitted
against the cost of that water. Instead, he says conserving water and recycling water, like the stuff we flushed down the toilet every day, are still more cost-effective than harvesting new water. We need to do both. But we should do whatever is cheaper and least damaging to the environment. In almost all cases, reusing the water, seems to be the cheaper way to go. Similarly, conserving water seems to be a
cheaper way to go, before you start harvesting it from the air. In the world of water, there may be different interpretations of sustainability and varying approaches to how to get clean water to more people. For Zero Mass, the company says the goal is to get to the point where the idea of water from
thin air, is just a part of people’s everyday conversations. You’re at a cocktail party and say, “Oh I’ve got solar on my roof,” people think, “Oh electricity,” to in a
small number of years, people saying, “Oh you have solar, are you talking about
electricity or water?” Let’s go up to the roof and check out our array up there. Okay. And Mike’s coming with us, right? Isn’t Mike coming with us? I think Mike was supposed to come with us. Yeah, Mike’s coming with us. Mike, we lost you. Oh, I was supposed to? Sorry. I was getting mixed signals.


  • Reply Lord Zordid July 9, 2018 at 4:16 pm

    They have actually installed a lot of those in Africa. From taxpayer money of course. I would love to see statistics on how many got legionella disease from this.

  • Reply jc cloud July 19, 2018 at 3:01 am

    Are solar panels not considered energy?

  • Reply St8kout July 19, 2018 at 3:04 am

    How many people realize they ALREADY own an Atmospheric Water Generator? Ever see the water dripping from an air conditioner? Where do you think that water is coming from? Of course, the trick is to capture and filter it for drinking.

  • Reply Sean Lutzke July 19, 2018 at 9:46 am

    Can this be more cost effective than distilling and remineralizing salt water? Does that thing use some kind of phase change cooler to make the water freeze?

  • Reply E July 20, 2018 at 4:08 pm

    I hope y’all aren’t drinking from your dehumidifiers. Gross af.

  • Reply Abhay Sharma July 21, 2018 at 4:57 am

    Let's make this world better together.

  • Reply Lenny July 21, 2018 at 6:14 am

    It's wild how scientifically illiterate the reporters for a tech site are. Or they do understand what this is but don't care because it's good for clicks.

  • Reply Keshav Agrawal July 21, 2018 at 7:23 am


  • Reply first Impression July 30, 2018 at 1:06 pm

    I can buy a dehumidifier that produces half a liter of water a day and consumes 60W for around 50 dollars…If I add solar panels to it….I could have a system capable of producing 5 liter of water for around 1k dollars…

  • Reply Jonathan Cloono August 2, 2018 at 10:15 am

    Extremely bad if used on a massive scale

  • Reply MEXCAN FUN August 2, 2018 at 7:11 pm

    I tried the water from my airconditior, it taste terrible,but it's better than nothing.

  • Reply David Lomas August 11, 2018 at 3:31 am

    standard household dehumidifier = water from air alternately power with solar panel, battery and inverter = free water anywhere

  • Reply listen2meokidoki August 14, 2018 at 3:27 pm

    Bullshit. You get more water by squeezing bullshit.

  • Reply Tawfik Tawil August 18, 2018 at 3:39 pm

    Would this affect the amount of rain that fall on the area?

  • Reply ExRE_Sapper August 21, 2018 at 1:48 pm

    There's several ways of making water in a survival situation just using a large plastic bag. You can produce drinking water using the plastic bag where there trees or no trees. Works on the same principle this expensive system. For your home there's plenty of water purifiers and active carbon filters to provide suitable good tasting safe water for drinking/washing.

  • Reply Gone Beyond August 23, 2018 at 8:42 am

    👍🏼 nice. Solid tech for those of us that live off grid , in the desert where the water table is 350+ below ground, costing about $80 per ft to have drilled with casing, putting a well at 28,000$ to drill on the low end, before pump house ect, my neighbor spend close to 65k on a well, before putting the pumphouse in, so $2500 is totally reasonable under those conditions not to mention it opens up the prospect of undeveloped real estate that can be found relatively cheap. We also catch water as well, 1” of rain =.6 gallons of water, but that also gets pricy trying to design a catchment that has the surface needed for both domestic and irrigation, and the quality is always questionable without a solid filtration system that is also optimized for solar use which can easily run $500 and up. I’m guessing most folks knocking this as being “an expensive dehumidifier” have never actually tried to run a dehumidifier (or any other 750 Watt appliance) off of solar panels. You would likely need between 2-3KW array plus a sizable and expensive battery bank just to run a dehumidifier for 12 hours, so this looks Like a much more efficient way, if you were to add up the cost of upsizing your solar system to acomedate a running at least 12 hours per day. A friend has another similar system as this by a company “air to water” that plugs into a 110 volt outlet, also about the same price , both MUCH more efficient that a standard 750 watt dehumidifier, so yeah, $2500 is actually a drop in the bucket so to speak when considering the cost of developing a parcel off grid, and water is absolutely the most essential resource for off grid living.

  • Reply DL August 25, 2018 at 7:56 pm


  • Reply MarkBTW August 28, 2018 at 2:29 am

    Seems like an over-engineered solution. A simple 60sq ft rain roof with a gutter could collect 465 gallons/year or 5 liters per day of rainwater even in Arizona (much more in other places). It's just a matter of storing it when it falls. A 300-gallon water reservoir is only like $300, 60sq ft metal roofing, gutter and PVC pipe would be like $90. So for $390 you could have access to the same amount of clean renewable water, it would just take slightly more surface area. It would take out the variable of solar power as well.

  • Reply Marmocet August 28, 2018 at 1:46 pm

    Journos who cover science and technology topics really should have at least some background in science and technology. If you want large volumes of fresh water and nature isn't providing it, reverse osmosis desalination of sea water is by far the cheapest way to get it, even if you have to pump the water hundreds of miles inland and thousands of feet above sea level.

  • Reply Bazzel Hunt August 31, 2018 at 2:19 am

    Thanks 4 unskipabal ad

  • Reply unguidedone September 2, 2018 at 1:49 am

    this video is a lie
    please remove it your spreading misinformation

  • Reply Ali Rodiansyah September 2, 2018 at 10:39 am

    How about mineral? is that important composition in water, for human consumption.

  • Reply LangeLS Sing Praise September 3, 2018 at 5:25 pm

    How many gallons does one panel make? This such an AWESOME invention Yahweh bless you all..

  • Reply Hoan Tran September 3, 2018 at 6:27 pm

    boooooooo… u’ll just report anything that sounds cool without investigating it.

  • Reply terrance leacock September 7, 2018 at 10:29 pm

    that's bs technology its a money scam to get money from governments, companies and invests. Total garbage.

  • Reply The Satan September 9, 2018 at 1:44 pm

    In India you can get this Jugaad in as low as 90 USD

  • Reply 萧振冼kenny seow September 11, 2018 at 2:12 am

    everything under d Solar Deity 🙂

  • Reply Firelord 777 September 12, 2018 at 3:32 pm

    4:48 All water is like 3 or 4 billion years old…

  • Reply TheRusschannel September 12, 2018 at 4:04 pm

    Old technology, basically same as HVAC tech we all use right now lol

  • Reply Michelle Binder September 16, 2018 at 3:41 pm

    I’m excited to see where this goes in the future. We have 40 acres in North Central Arizona. There is no ground water, so no well can be drilled. We plan to dig a large pond, and collect rain water. But this would be great for drinking and cooking water.

  • Reply Tania L. Williamson September 18, 2018 at 2:27 am

    WHY do you have to "mineralize" the water? You have created distilled water and you are probably adding fluoride which humans DO NOT NEED.

  • Reply Phi September 24, 2018 at 10:34 pm

    Why not collect and clean rainwater on roofs? Would be cheaper.

  • Reply landofw56 September 26, 2018 at 3:33 pm

    With chemtrails in the sky, drought is guaranteed.

  • Reply Byron September 27, 2018 at 1:15 am

    Have you ever read the warning label on a dehumidifier? Water from dehumidification doesn't contain the minerals you need and has to have them added. It has to be decontaminated – all of which costs energy and energy costs money. "But the solar, dude!" yup, okay, solar – which costs money to install and then amortize the costs of as well as maintain – there are no free rides. Oh, and if you live in a region with low humidity and/or temperatures, ya, you've just wasted your money, which is not skin off my arse and all, but it makes this Schadenfreude taste so, so good. So, water from the air – a false economy. Consider trucking in water or treating existing sources including rainwater, they're both far, far better, more sustainable solutions to water shortages than dehumidifier water.

  • Reply Apoorv Jaiswal September 27, 2018 at 10:02 am

    Doesn't the air need moisture
    It can make the air dry

  • Reply J M truthful October 3, 2018 at 12:09 pm

    We need this in Cape Town

  • Reply Nuclear Knight October 3, 2018 at 5:42 pm

    Wish they could make a smaller version so it can fit on a truck. If your out somewhere or helping people after a natural disaster, and or off in another country were it's hard to find water. If you have a platform that will fit on a vehicle that would pretty cool

  • Reply Akash Kumar October 4, 2018 at 5:28 pm

    This system harms water cycle and air temperature

  • Reply KoG GoK October 4, 2018 at 8:12 pm

    2500 for a gallon of water a day? seems kinda expensive.

  • Reply ferkemall October 7, 2018 at 11:05 am

    Here pet you seem sold on it take one of the units and go into a desert not taking any water with you and if you come out after a week we will know if it works !

  • Reply Jason Hassler October 8, 2018 at 11:58 pm

    Is this the next level of drinking water?

    Short answer….. No.

  • Reply Gibson Terrell October 13, 2018 at 1:02 am

    So get a solar panel from harbor freight and charge batteries all day then run dehumidifier outside at night and filter with charcoal or reverse osmosis. Voila

  • Reply KL Rider October 28, 2018 at 2:52 am

    This is the kind of technology that can be very useful in my country, where humidity can often reach 100% and become unbearable.

  • Reply Jihad AlSadah October 30, 2018 at 6:01 pm

    In Kuwait, the average amount of water from dehumidification of air conditioned water is around 100 liter/day for one average house. This is much more than the few liters per panel. Before dismissing it, it could be modified to use different humidity sources in the house or its water flows.

  • Reply Nauman Khan October 31, 2018 at 9:52 am

    The production of water per panel is too costly and it needs more research
    Agree to the last comments of Dr. Ashok, we should make it cheap.

  • Reply mac berry November 14, 2018 at 10:29 pm

    Where is the video on the Bill Gates toilet

  • Reply Shane mike November 26, 2018 at 5:11 pm

    Desertification in taking over alot of areas in Spain and China, these could help reverse that process. gotta love it

  • Reply Shane mike November 26, 2018 at 5:14 pm

    would these work on Mars ?????

  • Reply I love pilot career December 1, 2018 at 10:26 am


  • Reply Shoukat Ahmed Araeen December 11, 2018 at 6:18 am

    Very nice idea

  • Reply kasa January 1, 2019 at 7:03 pm

    God damn, some people can sell anything with clever marketing 😀 This is so waste of perfectly good energy. Remove the dehumidifier part and you have something useful there.
    Honestly, reporters should make some research and not give these people free advertisement.
    Harvesting water from air is made to seem ok option in this piece, but it's pretty much worst option we have. This whole thing is gimmick that some cashgrab people sell, and some people buy because they are ignorant.

  • Reply Karl Degraa February 2, 2019 at 1:47 am

    So from the video she says each unit collects around five litres per day and they cost about $2500? So it would take almost two years for it to produce water costing a dollar a litre.

    This is too expensive. Such units need to produce water costing less than a cent a litre.

  • Reply Andrew Johnson February 3, 2019 at 5:51 pm

    It’s an expensive dehumidifier. This tech has been proven pointless over and over again. Does not provide enough water. Stop giving these companies publicity until they can prove they provide enough water.
    In an emergency it would be quicker, easier, and faster to just haul water in for people. Could you imagine telling people who don’t have any water to wait while the dehumidifier collects water lol

  • Reply zapfanzapfan February 4, 2019 at 12:19 pm

    Sooo, does it work on Mars?

  • Reply Still i rise February 6, 2019 at 6:08 am

    cape town should try this

  • Reply Richard Owens February 12, 2019 at 2:37 pm

    In humid areas – where this "invention" would work well – it is not needed, because there is already plenty of rain! And, in dry areas this "invention" is worthless at pulling water out of the air that just plain isn't there to be collected! This is just a SCAM!

  • Reply Sy Sharp February 18, 2019 at 11:36 am

    Over engineered, why would it need to communicate to anyone other than tothe owner?

  • Reply papaburger February 25, 2019 at 2:55 am

    can this technology be applied to RV ?

  • Reply Ultreïa Sherpa March 11, 2019 at 8:45 pm

    Fantastic but a standard array consisting of two panels does not really generate too much a day… 🙁

  • Reply tecnocato March 17, 2019 at 3:42 pm

    This device has provided 100% of our drinking water for more than a year now.

  • Reply epSos Premium March 23, 2019 at 4:47 am

    Beautiful technology that could stop the water wars.

  • Reply 한마음별 March 29, 2019 at 12:00 am

    좋은 자료를 볼 수 있어 감사합니다. 깨끗한 물을 얻기위한 좋은 대안이 되길 기원합니다.

  • Reply Thumbsdown Bandit March 31, 2019 at 6:18 pm

    Are the panels water resistant? It rains a lot where I live. And I don't want them to take damage from the rain.

  • Reply BASE 5ive April 9, 2019 at 8:06 am

    He called himself “profound”. 😑

  • Reply Amit Patel April 9, 2019 at 4:24 pm

    Well it comes from air also if we see closely and its the example we see cold on mountain or hill station or see pyramid structure also mountain can be made like wise or we already made it some big mountain in our past who knows ?????



  • Reply Mark Trinidad April 21, 2019 at 12:58 am

    Throw in a couple of tech jargons to make itself more legit and confuse the common man but at the end of the day this tech is just a dehumidifier and slapping it with a $4500 price tag. Not Bad

  • Reply Old Seer April 30, 2019 at 2:15 am

    It sounds like 60 years ago. A new biological process will feed the hungry all over the world. Well. Well. It didn't. Poor floks don't have any money.

  • Reply HandfisH100 May 14, 2019 at 1:54 am

    Easier to use your airconditioner!

  • Reply e2e4au May 15, 2019 at 5:34 am

    How many gallons of water are used on those lush green lawns we keep seeing in this video.

  • Reply Brer Rabbit May 17, 2019 at 4:19 am

    A dehumidifier and an inefficient one at that.

  • Reply idul lawa May 23, 2019 at 4:37 pm

    terapkan di africa

  • Reply abobjenkins May 30, 2019 at 2:09 am



  • Reply Daniel Dunkelberger June 4, 2019 at 3:26 am

    Can homeless people afford it

  • Reply Rafael Coleto June 5, 2019 at 5:04 pm

    Damn, this seems just so busted

  • Reply Manshine Ideas Tamil June 9, 2019 at 7:31 am

    At the time 8:19 exactly it was Tamilnadu @ India

  • Reply Heck Dornenschwert June 22, 2019 at 1:09 am

    Proprietary! 👎

  • Reply Md Al Mamun June 27, 2019 at 5:41 am

    excess use of it could make the environment dry and affect rainfall.

  • Reply SANJAY SAXENA July 24, 2019 at 10:24 am

    Can I have some reading material on this?

  • Reply Yaakov Bar Nahman July 30, 2019 at 6:06 pm

    There are several other companies making more efficient systems for less money.

  • Reply Tameem Moaleji August 2, 2019 at 3:26 pm

    Its 100% a gimmick.

  • Reply Eric Johnson August 5, 2019 at 4:08 am

    nah like not even close. desalinization is the only viable direction.

  • Reply Mohammed Shafei August 11, 2019 at 2:42 pm

    It's a great and old idea that won't be remotely feasible before we can locally produce very, very cheap energy. Hopefully we'll get most of our water from the air by the year 2300.

  • Reply KENNETH BARNEYCASTLE August 13, 2019 at 4:48 pm

    i heard this was a scam

  • Reply Tallacus September 4, 2019 at 7:02 am

    Is the proprietary material graphene? Or some sort of graphene base?

  • Reply Gabriel Starle September 5, 2019 at 2:05 pm

    Anyone knows what the music at 2:10 in this video is? I kind of like it. The music I mean.

  • Reply Joseph Lashley September 9, 2019 at 5:19 pm

    In the Bahamas they used solar to evaporations to take water out of salt! They need to collect the water from that for drinking water.

  • Reply Wayne Shilcock September 23, 2019 at 2:11 pm

    5 litres a day is not abundance.

  • Reply KENNETH BARNEYCASTLE September 27, 2019 at 4:28 pm


  • Reply Kavik 28 September 27, 2019 at 11:55 pm

    As far as countries in the US…if we were able to get these set up on all the homes, that would reduce the carbon foot print of plastic bottles that we through away all the time. Then, to be on the safe side, have a back up generator to help run it, for bad weather days or some SHTF situation. As this technology expands, the price will come down. So, the only water from the utility company we would need is for basic washing and toilets. Could put water bottling companies out of business…

  • Reply Jacstarify September 30, 2019 at 9:13 pm

    Ironic that the geoengineering white lines are obvious in the sky of this footage….

  • Reply Leo Martinez October 2, 2019 at 3:07 am

    will we run out of air

  • Reply Roger Snow October 8, 2019 at 4:30 am

    5 liters per day per panel, under ideal conditions?!? That is hardly enough drinking water for 3 people per day for $2500? Are you serious? So this is only First World Water, for the extremely rich. Someone needs to come up with something that can collect water and doesn't cost a fortune…. passive fog fencing maybe? Amyways, this is bogus…. this company is trying to fleece people desperate for water.

  • Reply The Proceedings October 11, 2019 at 4:56 am

    OOOOOOOOH, a desiccant powered dehumidifier this is totally groundbreaking and in no way a waste of time and money.

  • Reply Greg Hartwick October 13, 2019 at 4:20 pm

    Small note: “Spain’s National Statistics Institute reported that average household water consumption in Spain was 137 litres per person per day in 2012.” 5 liters per panel per day!?

  • Reply Tyrone Potgieter October 14, 2019 at 6:18 pm

    She is a very intelligent lady. That's for sure.

  • Reply papaburger October 16, 2019 at 1:52 am

    just buy a dehumidifier and hook it to a solar panel that generate about 400 W will give you similar result with less money.

  • Reply sujeevan sriskanthan October 16, 2019 at 1:22 pm

    so this solution can feed WATER to desert lands.

  • Reply Scott scott October 20, 2019 at 5:56 am

    wow. they actually convinced Australian Government to put near $1 million into 150 panels in Australia.

  • Reply Jarome Jacksan October 28, 2019 at 3:02 pm

    Check guide from Avasva eco blog.

  • Reply Billder Inbaja November 2, 2019 at 1:05 pm

    $4,500 for 10 liters of water per day. Ouch. Much of this cost is in the solar power unit and optimization technology. For people who already have solar power, there must be a low tech way of doing this at a fraction of the cost. Can anyone provide a link to a low tech, low cost method of atmospheric water harvesting?

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