By Victor V. Saulon, Sub-Editor
THE Asian Development Bank (ADB) has backed a new technology that produces drinking water from sunlight and air, after first testing it on its headquarters’ rooftop ahead of preparing its application in eight electric cooperatives in remote areas of the Philippines.
“We gave grant money,” Yongping Zhai, ADB’s energy sector chief said during the launch of the technology in the Philippines on Thursday.
“This grant is $2,000 multipled by 40,” he said, referring to the cost of putting up each unit of that technology under a brand called “Source Hydropanel” and the number to be installed in the coming months.
Source Hydropanel is an off-grid, solar-powered technology that extracts water vapor from the air into a proprietary absorbent material. The water flows into a reservoir where it is mineralized with calcium and magnesium. The last process is meant to ensure the water meets health and taste considerations.
The technology was developed by US-based Zero Mass Water, Inc. (ZMW) and brought to the country in collaboration with its local partner Green Heat Corp.
The two companies installed four of the hydropanels on the rooftop of ADB’s headquarters in Mandaluyong City in 2017. Each hydropanel is capable of producing up to 5 liters of potable water per day.
“The Philippines’ fragmented geography adds extra barriers for reliance on traditional water infrastructure, yet makes it ideal for our technology to provide families, communities and businesses with drinking water,” said Cody Friesen, founder and chief executive officer of ZMW.
Apart from the ADB hydropanels, Mr. Friesen said eight units had been installed at the National Electrification Administration (NEA) headquarters in Quezon City.
Mr. Zhai said the 40 hydropanels would be installed in electric cooperatives in eight Philippine provinces, namely: Pangasinan, Bukidnon, Agusan del Sur, Davao del Sur, Bohol, Samar, Davao del Norte and Misamis Occidental.
“Once this is installed, money will be disbursed,” he said.
Glenn O. Tong, director at Green Heat, said solar hydropanel is perfect for the Philippines because it is a self-sufficient, low-maintenance technology and combines well with other solar photovoltaic systems.
“We have experienced many drinking water shortages here in the Philippines, which is why we need to look into renewable solutions that won’t add strain to our already overburdened grid,” he said.
Aside from producing drinking water, the hydropanels can also help reduce the amount of plastic waste generated in the country.
Based on estimates from ZMW, each hydropanel can displace up to 5,000 standard water bottles and provides “high-quality, delicious drinking water.”
Mr. Friesen said the application of the technology could be far-reaching in the Philippines and could include hotels, resorts, schools and villages in rural areas with no access to potable water.
Green Heat is the distributor of Source technology in the country. It is looking at its partnership with ZMW to scale up the application of the hydropanels. It has previously set up the solar energy systems of a number of entities in the Philippines, including ADB, Asia Brewery, Inc., Manuel L. Quezon University, St. Scholastica’s Academy of Marikina and Manila Electric Co.’s solar photovoltaic center.