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Environment

XPrize seeks water from the air

Foundation to award $1.75 million to developer of cheap technology

by Rick Mullin
October 26, 2016 | APPEARED IN VOLUME 94, ISSUE 43

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Credit: Shutterstock
XPrize prizes renewable energy.
Credit: Shutterstock
XPrize prizes renewable energy.

The XPrize Foundation, a Culver City, Calif.-based nonprofit that hosts public competitions to promote new technologies, has launched a new venture in which it will award $1.75 million to the developer of a system for harvesting water from the atmosphere.

The Water Abundance XPrize, which is sponsored by Tata Group and Australian Aid, hopes to identify an energy-efficient means of alleviating the global water crisis. It is challenging teams from around the world to create a device that extracts a minimum of 2,000 L of water a day from the atmosphere using 100% renewable energy, at a cost of no more than 2 cents per L.

“Globally, we are dealing with the twin problem of scarcity and distribution of usable water,” says Gopichand Katragadda, chief technology officer for Tata Group, adding that only 2.5% of all the water on Earth is fresh water. “We are confident that the outcomes driven by Xprize will provide innovative fresh water access options.”

The prize is expected to be awarded in 2018.

XPrize awarded its first prize in 2005 for suborbital spaceflight. Last year, it launched a $20 million competition for technologies that convert carbon dioxide to high-value products. The Water Abundance prize was announced at a United Nations Day reception in New Delhi last week in conjunction with a competition focused on women’s safety.

“The launch of these two new XPrizes in India puts us on an unstoppable path for grand impact,” says Zenia Tata, executive director of global expansion for XPrize. “India is becoming a leading global innovation hub, and that itself speaks volumes of the caliber of innovators and entrepreneurs this country hosts.”

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