ELU, an Egyptian robot that creates water from thin air

Mahmoud Elkoumy, a mechatronics engineer from Egypt, built ELU, a robot that converts humidity from the air into drinkable water.

Inspired by NASA’s Mars mission, this DYI prototype cost Mahmoud $250 to build and produces 4 cups of water per day. ELU runs on solar energy and is particularly adapted to dry environments with relatively high humidity levels, like Mars or some deserts on Earth. Indeed, on Mars, humidity can reach 100% during nighttime while it can peak at 50% in the Mojave desert.

Using polymer technology, ELU condenses moisture in the air. Then it filters, sterilizes, and enhances the resulting water to make it drinkable. According to Mahmoud, the cost of generating water from the air is lower than any other available technology. Indeed, one litre of water costs 1.5 to 2 cents with ELU, against 20 cents with other technologies such as wells or river extensions.

Why does it matter? Climate change causes the progressive desertification of the globe, and fresh water is more and more scarce. Mahmoud claims that his innovation is extremely scalable and that he can launch plants that generate 5,000 or even 50,000 litres per day.

Like many other technologies designed for space exploration that ended up benefiting people on Earth, this self-financed project could be a gamechanger for millions of people living in arid areas worldwide.

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