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AQUOVUM, Khalifa University and Masdar launch world’s first solar/thermal energy storage-powered project to extract water from air

The world’s first project to produce commercial volumes of an uninterrupted water supply from a sustainable source, making it carbon free, will launch this month in Masdar City, Abu Dhabi. The innovative pilot project will be run by U.S.-based water technologies company, AQUOVUM, in partnership with Masdar and Khalifa University of Science and Technology, as part of a three-party research and development agreement.

The project, which is beginning this month, will evaluate the performance of AQUOVUM’s large format Atmospheric Water Generation (AWG) technology in combination with a renewable energy source, and its ability to be included in current and/or future sustainable water projects.

The AWG technology which extracts water from the atmosphere using a renewable energy source, is another promising addition to the innovative sustainability-focused projects being run in Abu Dhabi’s R&D hub, Masdar City. The carbon-free technology will create access to clean water, a fundamental necessity in building a greener future, while contributing to the UNSDG 6 goal of ensuring the availability and sustainable management of water and sanitation for all.

The AWG technology will also contribute to a market that is expected to grow by a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of more than 25 per cent worldwide, and more than 30 per cent CAGR in the Middle East and Africa alone, which are some of the world’s harshest climates where water is needed the most, according to Global Market Insights.

Abdulla Balalaa, Executive Director, Sustainable Real Estate, Masdar City, said, “Water underlies all areas of human and environmental health and it is also essential to food and energy production. Developing technologies that both protect and guarantee a constant and secure source of water, is therefore of utmost importance. The AQUOVUM pilot will be installed at Khalifa University’s Masdar Institute Solar Platform in Masdar City and will operate from 100 per cent renewable power, a process that is completely carbon neutral. As the regional home of technology innovation and R&D, at Masdar City, we are delighted to be partnering with AQUOVUM and Khalifa University to initiate this world-first project.”

“The project will positively contribute to regional and global water security in line with the UAE Water Security Strategy 2036, and as the only planned and approved R&D cluster in Abu Dhabi, we are committed to facilitating R&D projects that bring ground-breaking new technologies to the world and contribute to building a more sustainable future for all. Masdar City is already home to over 900 companies, dedicated to developing innovative technologies across the sectors of renewables, energy storage, water, artificial intelligence, health, space, and mobility.” Balalaa, continued.

Robert Wood, CTO of AQUOVUM, said, “To support and progress the global green transition and to ensure water security, we recognized that we must power our systems on 100 per cent renewable energy to provide a truly sustainable water supply.. Our bleeding-edge technologies work with nature and are the way forward to deliver lasting, sustainable solutions.”

Dr. Nicolas Calvet, Assistant Professor in the Mechanical Engineer Department at Khalifa University, founder and chair of the Masdar Institute Solar Platform (MISP), and Principal Investigator of the project, said, “Previously, we have focused on concentrated solar power (CSP) and thermal energy storage (TES), and we are diversifying our R&D activity at the Masdar Institute Solar Platform with clean production of fresh water. Indeed, solar and water should be the main pillars of research and development in the UAE and this project will run for 12 months and provide valuable performance data for a full year’s weather cycle.”

The green power needed for this supply will be provided by the Azelio AB (Sweden) demonstrator of 24/7 electrical thermal energy storage/Stirling pilot also located at the Masdar Institute Solar Platform.

Mohamed Al Qubaisi, CEO of AQUOVUM Middle East, said, “The interest of the leadership in the UAE, the continuity of a decent life, and the long-term safety and well-being of citizens and residents, encouraged and motivated me to research, invest and participate in this modern and distinctive project. Technology that extracts clean water from the air in commercial volumes and operates using clean energy, will help in securing and developing all life sources and serving the national interests.”

“This project represents the dawning of the commercial AWG market and AQUOVUM is the company poised to lead the market,” said Dawn Lewis, CEO of AQUOVUM USA.