Title:
Device for extracting fresh water from the atmosphere
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
A water generating system comprising: a pressurized condenser capable of being overpressurized; said pressurized condenser comprising a moisture laden air inlet and a moisture depleted air outlet, each inlet and outlet further having valves, respectively; said pressurized condenser further comprising a cold water inlet attached by a cold water transport conduit to a cold water pump, a warm water outlet and a heat exchanger that is in fluid communication between the cold water inlet and the warm water outlet; a moisture laden air transport conduit attached to the moisture laden air inlet; an air pump/conditioner attached to a distal end of the moisture laden air transport; said air pump/conditioner capable of significant creating a significant overpressurization air pressure in the pressurized condenser; a moisture depleted air transport conduit attached to the moisture depleted air outlet; and a water recovery outlet attached to a water reservoir via a water recovery conduit.



Inventors:
Corl, David (Mesa, AZ, US)
Application Number:
12/228395
Publication Date:
02/18/2010
Filing Date:
08/12/2008
Primary Class:
International Classes:
F25B41/00
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Primary Examiner:
KOAGEL, JONATHAN BRYAN
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
The Halvorson Law Firm (Gilbert, AZ, US)
Claims:
What is claimed is:

1. A water generating system comprising: a) a pressurized condenser capable of being overpressurized; i. said pressurized condenser further comprising a moisture laden air inlet and a moisture depleted air outlet, each inlet and outlet further having valves capable of controlling the ingress and egress of air into and out of the pressurized condenser, respectively; ii. said pressurized condenser further comprising a cold water inlet attached by a cold water transport conduit to a cold water pump, a warm water outlet and a heat exchanger that is in fluid communication between the cold water inlet and the warm water outlet; b) a moisture laden air transport conduit attached to the moisture laden air inlet; c) an air pump/conditioner attached to a distal end of the moisture laden air transport; said air pump/conditioner capable of significant creating a significant overpressurization air pressure in the pressurized condenser; d) a moisture depleted air transport conduit attached to the moisture depleted air outlet; and e) a water recovery outlet attached to a water reservoir via a water recovery conduit.

2. The system according to claim 1 wherein the heat exchanger further comprises at least one thermally conductive conduit that projects into the interior of the pressurized condenser.

3. The system according to claim 2 wherein the at least one thermally conductive conduit further includes condensation projections located along the surface of the portion of the thermally conductive conduit that projects into the interior of the pressurized condenser.

4. The system according to claim 3 wherein the surface of the heat exchanger further includes a hydrophilic surface.

5. The system according to claim 3 wherein the surface of the heat exchanger further includes surface that has both hydrophilic and hydrophobic sections.

Description:

FIELD OF THE INVENTION

The present invention relates to the field of water generation. More specifically, the present invention relates to the field of extracting water from the atmosphere.

BACKGROUND

Freshwater is water with less than 0.5 parts per thousand dissolved salts and other dissolved solids. It is an important renewable resource, necessary for the survival of most terrestrial organisms, and required by humans for drinking and agriculture, among many other uses. Freshwater bodies include glaciers, polar ice caps, lakes, rivers, and some bodies of underground water. The primary source of freshwater is the precipitation of atmosphere in the form of rain and snow.

Access to unpolluted freshwater is a critical issue for the survival of many species, including humans. Only three percent of the water on Earth is freshwater in nature, and about two-thirds of this is frozen in glaciers and polar ice caps. Most of the rest is underground and only 0.3 percent is surface water. Freshwater lakes contain seven-eighths of this fresh surface water. Swamps have most of the balance with only a small amount in rivers.

The world's water consumption rate is doubling every 20 years, outpacing by two times the rate of population growth. It is projected that by the year 2025 water demand will exceed supply by 56%, due to persistent regional droughts, shifting of the population to urban coastal cities, and water needed for industrial growth. The supply of fresh water is on the decrease. Water demand for food, industry and people is on the rise.

It is estimated that 15% of worldwide water use is for household purposes. This use includes drinking water, bathing, cooking, sanitation, and gardening. Basic household water requirements are estimated at around 50 liters per person per day, excluding water for gardens.

Many countries and regions do not have enough freshwater and resort to desalination of seawater to satisfy their needs. Desalination refers to any of several processes that remove excess salt and other minerals from water in order to obtain fresh water suitable for animal consumption or irrigation. Desalination of ocean water is common in the Middle East and the Caribbean, and is growing fast in the USA, North Africa, Singapore, Spain, Australia and China.

There are a lot of methods for desalination: evaporation/condensation, distillation, multiple-effect membrane processes, electrodialysis reversal, nanofiltration, freezing, solar humidification, methane hydrate crystallization, vacuum distillation, and so on. All of these methods require the use enormous amounts of energy resulting in high cost freshwater.

A number of factors determine the capital and operating costs for desalination: capacity and type of facility, location, feed water, labor, energy, financing and concentrate disposal. Desalination stills now control pressure, temperature and brine concentrations to optimize the water extraction efficiency.

Critics point to the high costs of desalination technologies, especially for poor third world countries, the impracticability and cost of transporting or piping massive amounts of desalinated seawater throughout the interiors of large countries, and the “lethal byproduct of saline brine that is a major cause of marine pollution when dumped back into the oceans at high temperatures”. While noting that costs are falling, and generally positive about the technology for affluent areas that are proximate to oceans, one study argues that “Desalinated water may be a solution for some water-stress regions, but not for places that are poor, deep in the interior of a continent, or at high elevation. Unfortunately, that includes some of the places with biggest water problems.

Regardless of the method used, there is always a highly concentrated waste product consisting of everything that was removed from the created “fresh water”. These concentrates are classified by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency as industrial wastes. With coastal facilities, it may be possible to return it to the sea without harm if this concentrate does not exceed the normal ocean salinity gradients to which osmoregulators are accustomed. Reverse osmosis, for instance, may remove 50% or more of the water, doubling the salinity of ocean waste.

In the past many novel desalination techniques have been researched with varying degrees of success. Some are still on the drawing board now while others have attracted research funding. For example, to offset the energetic requirements of desalination, the U.S. Government is working to develop practical solar desalination.

Other approaches involve the use of geothermal energy. From an environmental and economic point of view, in most locations geothermal desalination can be preferable to using fossil groundwater or surface water for human needs, as in many regions the available surface and groundwater resources already have long been under severe stress.

Lack of fresh water reduces economic development and lowers living standards. Clearly, there is a critical worldwide need to better manage this increasingly valuable resource.

About 577,000 km water vaporizes from Earth's surface each year (505,000 km of them from oceans). Accordingly, it would be there is a need to economically recover a portion of this vaporized water from the atmosphere, thereby obviating environmental waste concerns. A preferred method could be used in any point of Earth

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

It is an object of the present invention to provide water generation plant.

It is another object of the present invention to provide a water generation plant that utilizes increased pressure and reduced temperatures to generate the water from moisture laden air.

It is yet another object of the present invention to provide a water generation plant that pumps moisture laden air, under pressure, into a pressurized condenser, wherein the pressurized condenser includes cooled heat exchangers. The pressurized moisture laden air exchanges heat with the cooled heat exchanges thereby allowing the moisture in the air to condense. The condensed water and moisture depleted air are then pumped out of the water generator and the process is repeated either in batch mode or as a continuous process.

The novel features that are considered characteristic of the invention are set forth with particularity in the appended claims. The invention itself, however, both as to its structure and its operation together with the additional object and advantages thereof will best be understood from the following description of the preferred embodiment of the present invention when read in conjunction with the accompanying drawings. Unless specifically noted, it is intended that the words and phrases in the specification and claims be given the ordinary and accustomed meaning to those of ordinary skill in the applicable art or arts. If any other meaning is intended, the specification will specifically state that a special meaning is being applied to a word or phrase. Likewise, the use of the words “function” or “means” in the Description of Preferred Embodiments is not intended to indicate a desire to invoke the special provision of 35 U.S.C. §112, paragraph 6 to define the invention. To the contrary, if the provisions of 35 U.S.C. §112, paragraph 6, are sought to be invoked to define the invention(s), the claims will specifically state the phrases “means for” or “step for” and a function, without also reciting in such phrases any structure, material, or act in support of the function. Even when the claims recite a “means for” or “step for” performing a function, if they also recite any structure, material or acts in support of that means of step, then the intention is not to invoke the provisions of 35 U.S.C. §112, paragraph 6. Moreover, even if the provisions of 35 U.S.C. §112, paragraph 6, are invoked to define the inventions, it is intended that the inventions not be limited only to the specific structure, material or acts that are described in the preferred embodiments, but in addition, include any and all structures, materials or acts that perform the claimed function, along with any and all known or later-developed equivalent structures, materials or acts for performing the claimed function.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

FIG. 1 is one embodiment of the present invention.

FIG. 2 is a second embodiment of the present invention.

FIG. 3 is a view of the thermally conductive conduit according to the present invention.

DESCRIPTION OF PREFERRED EMBODIMENTS

The present invention is useful for extracting water from the atmosphere.

Illustrated in FIG. 1, is one embodiment of a system according to the present invention, generally designated 100.

System 100 is then shown as embedded in a body of water 200, although it may as well be imbedded in other media, such as the ground. Above the body of water 200 is seen to be the atmosphere indicated as 300. Included in the atmosphere is an amount of vaporized water. It is this water that is to be extracted by the present invention is then from the moisture-laden air of atmosphere 300.

The present invention, 100, generally comprises a pressurized condenser 110. The pressurized condenser 110 preferably a large chamber capable of receiving moisture laden air either at elevated pressures or at ambient pressure and subsequently pressurized. The pressurized condenser 110 is designed to work at any external temperature and any external pressure. In one embodiment, shown in FIG. 1, the pressurized condenser 110 operates at atmospheric pressure and ambient temperature (for example 3 atmospheres and 25° C.). In a second embodiment, shown in FIG. 2, the pressurized condenser 110 operates at an elevated pressure and reduced temperature (for example 3 atmospheres and 15° C.).

There is a moisture laden air inlet 120 and a moisture depleted air outlet 130. The inlet 120 and outlet 130 may be located at any mechanically convenient location on the pressurized condenser 110, though preferably the inlet is located near the bottom of the pressurized condenser 110 and the outlet 130 is located near the top of the pressurized condenser 110. Each of the inlet 120 and outlet 130 may include valves 125 and 135 respectively capable of controlling the ingress and egress air. This control may be either manual or electronically activated.

Attached to the moisture laden air inlet 120 is a moisture laden air transport conduit 127. The moisture laden air transport conduit 127 extends from the moisture laden air inlet 120 to a distal air pump/conditioner 129, located external of the pressurized condenser 110, preferably to a location that provides easy access to moisture laden air. The pump/conditioner 129 may include particulate air filtration devices to remove particulate material from the air prior to pumping into the pressurized condenser 110.

This is one of the critical elements of the present invention. In the preferred embodiment the distal air pump/conditioner 129 is capable of a significant overpressurization of moisture laden air in the pressurized condenser. This overpressurization increased the density of the moisture laden air. For example, once moisture laden air reaches an pressure of 100 psig; 7 bar, the air is compressed to ⅛th its previous volume, yet still contains the same amount of moisture. The increase in pressure causes some of the moisture to condense out of the air. Since during the compression process, the temperature of the moisture laden air rises due to frictional heat, its ability to hold water vapor increases. Accordingly, in order to recover additional water from the moisture laden air, the present invention includes a heat exchanging mechanism, described below.

Attached to the moisture depleted air outlet 130 is a moisture depleted air transport conduit 137. The moisture depleted air transport conduit 137 extends from the moisture depleted air outlet 130 to a location external of the pressurized condenser 110, preferably to a location that does not interfere with the distal end of the moisture laden air transport conduit 127.

The pressurized condenser 110 also includes a cold water inlet 140. Attached to the cold water inlet is a cold water pump 145 and cold water transport conduit 147. Cold water is pumped from a distal end of the cold water transport conduit 147 through the pump 145 into cold water flow conduits (not shown) located interior of the pressurized condenser 110. Preferably the distal end of the cold water transport conduit is located in a large source of cold water, such at deep underwater illustrated in the figures. Other large sources of cold water may be used and still fall within the scope of the present invention. Preferably the cold water transport conduit 147 is insulated 148 in order maintain the cold temperature of the transported water as it is transported into the pressurized condenser 110.

The pressurized condenser 110 also includes a warm water outlet 150 through which heated water exits the pressurized condenser 110.

Located interior of the pressurized condenser 110 is a heat exchanger 160. The heat exchanger 150 is preferably a series of conduits in fluid communication with the cold water flow conduits of the pressurized condenser 110 and the warm water outlet 150. In an alternate embodiment, the interior walls of the pressurized condenser 110 is also cooled by the pumped cold water thereby also acting as a heat exchanger.

The preferred form of the heat exchanger, illustrated in FIG. 3, is a thermally conductive conduit 155 that includes condensation projections 157. Cold water flows through the thermally conductive conduit 155 cooling both the conduit 155 and the condensation projections 157. Air pumped into the pressurized condenser 110, because of kinetic energy, contact the cooled heat exchanger and lose heat. Upon reaching the proper temperature for condensation under the current operating conditions, the cooled water molecules in the moisture laden air condense, aided by the condensation projections 157 located on the thermally conductive conduit 155. In an alternate embodiment of the present invention cooled interior walls of the pressurized condenser 110 also include condensation projections (not shown). In the preferred embodiment of the present invention there are sufficient numbers of thermally conductive conduits 155 to substantially fill the head space of the interior of the pressurized condenser 110.

Additionally, the condensation projections 157 and thermally conductive conduit 155, as well as the interior wall of the pressurized condenser 110, may further include surfaces, with or without microtexturing, that aides in the condensation of water from the overpressurized moisture laden air. The surface may be hydrophilic surface, hydrophobic surfaces or combinations of the two. Further these surfaces may include microtexturing that aids the condensation process such as a plurality of microprojections, a plurality of microindents or combinations of the two. Finally, the surfaces may be laminar with a porous hydrophilic structure.

There is also a water recovery outlet that has a water recovery conduit extending to a water reservoir. Preferably there is a water pump that is intermediate between the water recovery outlet and the water reservoir.

In one embodiment of the present invention, illustrated in FIG. 1, the pressurized condenser 110, is located on source of non-potable water, such as sea water or heavily contaminated lake water. The pressurized condenser 110 maintains its position on the surface of the water via floats 210 attached to the pressurized condenser 110. In order to maintain its horizontal position the pressurized condenser is anchored to the seabed or lake bed using at least one anchor 220 and either flexible or inflexible anchor guides 225 that extend between the anchors 220 and the pressurized condenser 110. In the preferred embodiment, the anchor guides 225 attach to the pressurized condenser 110 with slip rings 227 or other like movable mechanism that allow the pressurized condenser to move with wave motion as needed.

In an alternate embodiment, illustrated in FIG. 2, the pressurized condenser 110 may be lowered underneath the water to aid in heat transport away from the moisture laden air. A further benefit to locating the pressurized condenser may be that it eases the energy burden of pressurizing the moisture laden air. In this embodiment a float may be included to contain control and other mechanisms. Also in this embodiment, located within the pressurized condenser 110, may be a piston assembly that allows the volume of the pressurized condenser 110 to decrease as the condenser 110 is lowered underwater.

In both embodiments, the power needed to run the various pumps may come from the electrical grid, or, as illustrated in FIGS. 1 and 2, it may come from alternative energy means such as solar or wind power, or combinations of the two.

The preferred embodiment of the invention is described above in the Drawings and Description of Preferred Embodiments. While these descriptions directly describe the above embodiments, it is understood that those skilled in the art may conceive modifications and/or variations to the specific embodiments shown and described herein. Any such modifications or variations that fall within the purview of this description are intended to be included therein as well. Unless specifically noted, it is the intention of the inventor that the words and phrases in the specification and claims be given the ordinary and accustomed meanings to those of ordinary skill in the applicable art(s). The foregoing description of a preferred embodiment and best mode of the invention known to the applicant at the time of filing the application has been presented and is intended for the purposes of illustration and description. It is not intended to be exhaustive or to limit the invention to the precise form disclosed, and many modifications and variations are possible in the light of the above teachings. The embodiment was chosen and described in order to best explain the principles of the invention and its practical application and to enable others skilled in the art to best utilize the invention in various embodiments and with various modifications as are suited to the particular use contemplated.