November 24, 2008

Innovation: Drawing Water from Air

By admin

I was fascinated by this story and was excited to see that the company (Element Four ) is based in Kelowna, BC.  Let’s hope it stays that way, but I suppose that’s a different story 🙂

My hopes are high as I read something like this, excited that a number of companies will turn their focus from how to extract the most blood (or in most cases, tar) from stones (or in the case of Canada, sands), bringing forth an era when we might actually be proud again of our scientific prowess.

What struck me most in this article was the commentary on water bottles (and the inherent plea that we need to stop drinking bottled water):

For the environmentally conscious consumer, the WaterMill has an obvious appeal. Bottled water is an ecological catastrophe. In the US alone, about 30bn litres of bottled water is consumed every year at a cost of about $11bn (£7.4bn).

According to the Earth Policy Institute, about 1.5m barrels of oil – enough to power 100,000 cars for a year – is used just to make the plastic. The process also uses twice as much water as fits inside the container, not to mention the 30m bottles that go into landfills every day in the US. But the mill also has downsides, not least its $1,200 cost when it goes on sale in America, the UK, Italy, Australia and Japan in the spring. In these credit crunch times that might dissuade many potential buyers, though Ritchey points out that at $0.3 per litre, it is much cheaper than bottled water and would pay for itself in a couple of years.

Now … why isn’t the Government of Ontario or Canada looking at companies like this and offering them MORE cash so that they can survive the recession (or state of economic calamity – take your pick), expand and become Canada’s new manufacturing / innovation vanguard?  That would take vision, and I doubt our governments have that.  They’re still too busy spinning their tires with 19th century laggards.