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The Airo system (photo: Fontus)
The Airo system (photo: Fontus)

Sometime before the end of the year, Fontus, an Austrian startup, hopes to start selling a bottle that turns moist air into water.

Initially designed for bikers and hikers, a video of the Airo in action appears to have much more potential — such as helping some of the millions of thirsty people on the planet access clean water.

The Weather Channel posted the Airo video to Facebook last month and it has begun to generate some attention. As of Thursday, the clip had gathered more than three-million views. Fontus’ design was a 2014 finalist for the Dyson award, a student design award, and the company has said it has received investment from Austria’s government, although the company is relying on a crowd-funding campaign, due to start in 10 days, to bring the device to market.

Fontus' bike-mounted water collection system.
Fontus’ bike-mounted water collection system.

The bottle runs on solar power. A condensation chamber collects and cools humid air and condenses it into droplets of water. Instead of sticking to the chamber’s sides, the droplets immediately slide into the bottle because the chamber is lined with hydrophobic material. A filter keeps bugs and dirt out. The company also plans to offer a bike-mounted version called the Fontus Ryde which “harvests” the airstream created when an owner is riding.

Fontus managers were not immediately available for comment but in a note on the company’s web site they say, “Airo will save you trouble, weight and might even save your life.”

In the best climate conditions, between 86 and 104 degrees and with at least 80 percent humidity, the system can collect 0.5 liters of water per hour. Collecting water from humid air is not a new idea but the ability to do it on demand and with relatively lightweight and inexpensive equipment is new.

Whether the company can deliver remains to be seen, but managers have said they plan to soon release a white paper on their technology.

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