Bill Gates backs an Arizona-based startup that makes water out of thin air

Invented in 2014, the technology is already in use at over 450 project sites.
Ameya Paleja
A Source installation in DubaiSource

Bill Gates' Breakthrough Energy Ventures is one of the firms that is backing Scottsdale, Arizona-based Source Global, a startup that makes water out of thin air, CNBC reported.

Estimates from the World Health Organization suggest that roughly half the world's population will live in water-stressed areas in less than three years. While parts of Asia and Africa are known for their lack of access to drinking water, the U.S.' need for a clean and continuous supply of drinking water cannot be understated. More than 1.5 million miles of lead pipes are still in use to tap into groundwater sources while around 750 water main breaks are reported every day.  

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Using tech to find water

Source Global's technology consists of a renewable system to obtain water practically anywhere on the planet. Invented in 2014 by Cody Friesen at Arizona State University in the U.S., the system is made up of a panel similar in appearance to a solar panel but different in that it produces water instead of energy.

That said, part of the system does include solar panels that trap the energy from the sun to run the device and make it independent of power grids. The energy generated is used to power fans that draw in ambient air and push it onto a water-absorbing material that traps the water vapor. 

Trapped water vapor is then extracted and passively condensed, after which it is collected. Minerals are then added to ensure that the water tastes properly. Not only is the water obtained in a sustainable manner, a single hydro panel used by Source can replace 54,000 single-use plastic bottles during its 15-year lifespan, the company claims on its website. 

Water production for everyone, everywhere

Source has already installed its panels at 450 project sites spread over 52 countries, and last year launched its own bottled water brand in Queensland, Australia.

The company has now raised $150 million through venture capital firms like Bill Gates' Breakthrough Energy, Black Rock, Duke Energy, and Lightsmith Group, CNBC said in its report. How the company plans to use this investment has not been revealed.

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