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Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA) announced an Aussie-first trial of a solar-powered water producing device that extracts drinking water from the air.

Coming from US-based company Zero Mass Water, the portable SOURCE hydropanel system sucks in moisture from the atmosphere using solar power, along with purifying and adding minerals to ensure that the water is 110 percent safe for drinking.

The SOURCE system can produce up to 4-10 liters of clean drinking water on a typical day, depending on climate conditions.

This system makes use of solar power, along with a small battery for the constant harvesting of water, even on cloudy days.

ARENA is providing $420,000 to fund the deployment of 150 solar powered drinking water devices across Australia. The $821,500 total project will demonstrate the technology not yet seen in Australia.

The initial project will test the SOURCE system in several locations including airports, cafes, commercial buildings, community centers, and sustainable properties.

“This project can produce reliable drought-resistant water sources while simultaneously reducing the number of plastic bottles that end up in a landfill,” said ARENA CEO Ivor Friskiness.

A standard two-panel solar array operating at 20°C produces enough water to fill a 12-pack of 500ml bottled water, according to Zero Mass Water, equating to 20,000 displaced plastic bottles over 15 years.

Part of the ARENA trial involves a third party study to examine the environmental impact of plastic bottles in Australia.

“A successful roll out of the solar device could create a new product for Australia’s solar industry,” Mr. Frischknecht added.

Usually reliant on ambient heat and complicated substrates to draw water from the atmosphere, SOURCE differs from other solar water harvesting systems.

Every standard residential SOURCE array is made up of two solar “hydropanels”. The panels are relatively small, measuring 1.2 meters by 2.4 meters.

One “primary” panel comes standard, while the additional panel is customized to suit drinking requirements. Each panel is capable of holding 30 liters of water in a reservoir. Standard arrays come with 60 liters of water storage capacity.

The water produced by the solar panels meets Australian drinking water contaminant guidelines.