Natural Building Blog

Earthbag Building & Other Natural Building Methods

Extracting Water from Air

The AirDrop irrigation system extracts moisture from the air.

The AirDrop irrigation system extracts moisture from the air.


Developing efficient methods for extracting moisture from the air (condensing atmospheric humidity) has long been a goal of scientists and engineers. The AirDrop irrigation system by Edward Linnacre is one of the more recent inventions for extracting water from the surrounding air.

“The AirDrop works like a refrigerator or an air conditioner. But whereas water is just a byproduct in the other two devices, it’s the main output in this instance. An air turbine intake near the top of the device sucks air in, which is then cooled by the surrounding soil as it passes through the copper tubing to facilitate condensation. The collected water is then pumped out through a semi-permeable hose to the roots of plants. The parts that need power – the turbine and the pump – get their juice from a battery, which in turn is charged by the solar panel on top of the device.”

Source: Technabob.com

Water vapor machine makes water by combining hot air and cold air (main structure could be an earthbag dome)

Water vapor machine makes water by combining hot air and cold air (main structure could be an earthbag dome)


Diagram showing how the water vapor machine works

Diagram showing how the water vapor machine works


Source images 2, 3: Futuristic Design
Belgian inventor Achille Knapen built an air well on a 600-foot high hill at Trans-en-Provence in France.

Belgian inventor Achille Knapen built an air well on a 600-foot high hill at Trans-en-Provence in France.


The unique air well structure by Achille Knapen was described in Popular Mechanics Magazine, thus: “The tower… is about 45 feet tall. The walls are from 8 to 10 feet thick to prevent the heat radiation from the ground from influencing the inside temperature. It is estimated that the aerial well will yield 7,500 gallons of water per 900 square feet of condensation surface.” Note: the walls could be much thinner and thereby much less resource and labor intensive if made with earthbags, because earth doesn’t conduct heat as rapidly as stone. Add vent tubes instead of building square vents. The exterior could be plastered or covered with one layer of stone on top of rough plastered earthbags.
Source: Water – Think About it
Dew Bank
WaterCone (sadly delayed for years)

Dozens of other similar inventions for harvesting water from air are described at ResResearch.com — Airwells, Dew Ponds and Fog Fences
(seems like a comprehensive directory of information on the subject)

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6 Responses to “Extracting Water from Air”

  1. Marietjie says:

    Very interesting. What is the possibility of testing this inventions in other countries?

    Please add me to your mailing list.

    • Owen Geiger says:

      You’ll have to do deeper research for the details. This blog post just scratches the surface as far as technicalities. It’s main purpose is to draw awareness to these concepts.

      Click on the Subscribe button on the right side of the page.

  2. This is an interesting blog article…

    The effectiveness of extracting water from air is quite site-specific. The dew-point temperature of the air in relation to the soil temperature would be important for the AirDrop irrigation system operation. Learn more at the following links—

    Global Water-from-Air resource map: http://www.atmoswater.com/wfa-resource-map.html

    Water-from-Air Resource Charts for selected locations: http://www.atmoswater.com/water-from-air-resource-charts-product-guide.html

  3. Claudia says:

    And for single-family households, there’s also the Water Mill (http://inhabitat.com/the-watermill-produces-fresh-drinking-water-out-of-thin-air/).

    • Owen Geiger says:

      Yes, there are lots of standard, commercially available devices, and this may be the most practical solution for most. I tend to focus on low tech and unusual DIY alternatives.

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