ImpactAlpha, June 24 – Water-tech venture Zero Mass Water’s rooftop panels look like solar panels. Instead of converting sunlight to energy, they capture water vapor in the air for drinking water.
“The amount of water vapor in the air is six times the amount of water in all of the earth’s rivers, and it’s constantly being recycled,” founder Cody Friesen told ImpactAlpha.
Friesen, a materials scientist who developed Zero Mass Water’s technology at Arizona State University, wants to unlock this “renewable source” to overcome obstacles to clean water access, from water scarcity to unsafe and inadequate infrastructure (like lead pipes).
Each Zero Mass Water “hydropanel” can capture several liters of water a day, both in dry, sunny climates like Phoenix or humid, cloudy environments like Manila. The technology purifies the water, so air quality isn’t an issue.
Hydropanels have been installed at sites in 45 countries after early pilots in an Ecuadorian slum and a Syrian refugee camp in Jordan.
Zero Mass Water’s technology is still on a learning, and cost-reduction, curve. Already, “it makes absolute sense from a cost perspective for consumers in the U.S.,” Friesen says. Economic benefits in emerging markets include reduced health burdens from diarrheal diseases. “Eventually it will be the lowest-cost potable water in the world.”
BlackRock led the company’s $50 million Series C funding round and was joined by existing investor Breakthrough Energy Ventures.