Marc Parent lived on a Caribbean island and suddenly found himself with no water and no electricity. Like most engineers, he immediately began looking for a solution. Today, that solution has spawned French-based EoleTech, which manufactures wind turbines that produce water literally out of thin air.
Parent solved his water problem by focusing on the coupling between his air conditioning unit and a small turbine. His one-of-a-kind system collected water from humidity in the air and condensation from the AC unit and converted it into potable water.
Later, after returning to France, Parent began looking for similar techniques to produce water but discovered there were none. He realized that the wind turbine application he created was not just unique but also beneficial. The technology could be used to help those in small, remote communities in Asia, Africa, the Middle East and South America to create water, not just collect it from an existing water source.
In 2000 and 2004, EoleTech (with support from large manufacturers like Siemens, Danfoss, Arcelor, Emerson and a variety of small companies) produced two WMS1000 prototypes. “Nearly 30 engineers and technicians, both in and out of Eole, helped develop the WMS1000,” says Thibault Janin, marketing and communications director at Eole Water, a division of EoleTech.
After more than 15 years of research and development, the fourth generation WMS1000 is a 30kW direct drive generator turbine with three fiberglass blades manufactured with epoxy plastic and polymerized at 140 F for 12 hours. The blades generate electricity in the traditional wind turbine fashion and are connected to a nacelle housing a fiberglass composite rotor as well as the condensation and water production components made from a food safe, stainless steel alloy. The hydraulic shaft also is manufactured using steel alloy that minimizes corrosion.
The process from wind to water takes many steps, all of which can be broken down into power generation, water generation and water purification. During the first stage, the turbine generates electricity that enables the entire water generating system to function. In the second stage, air is sucked in through the nose of the turbine through a device known as an “air blower.” As the air is trapped, it is directed through the electric cooling compressor located behind the propellers. The cooling compressor extracts humidity from the air, creating moisture that is then condensed, collected and transferred down the series of stainless steel pipes housed in the tower and into a tank at the base of the turbine. From there, the water is filtered and purified for consumption. The turbine can filter up to 264 gallons of water per day, depending on humidity and wind levels. “That is enough water to provide water for a village or town of 2,000 to 3,000 people,” says Janin.